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A RIGHTED WRONG. 




EDMUND YATES, 




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A RIGHTED WRONG. 



A RIGHTED WRONG. 



% Itofetl. 



EDMUND TATES, 



AUTHOR OP 
'BLACK SHEEP,' 'THE FORLORN HOPE,' 'BROKEN TO HARNESS,' ETC. 



$eto 6Mt.ion. 



LONDON : 

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1871. 

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JOHN CHILDS AND SON, PRINTERS. 



CONTENTS. 



CII-VP. 

I. HOMEWARD BOUND 

II. PAGES FROM THE PAST 

III. DISCOMFITURE 

IV. THE IDEAL AND THE REAL 
V. CHAYLEICII 

VI. HALF-CONFIDENCES 

VII. THE OLD FAMILIAR FACES . . 

VIII. MRS CARTERET IS CONGRATULATED 

IX. WHAT THE WOMAN MEANT . . 

X. THE LETTER FROM MELBOURNE 

XI. FOOLs' PARADISE 

XII. DAWNING 

XIII. DAT 

XIV. FULL COMPENSATION . . 
XV. THREE LETTERS . . 

xvi. hayes Meredith's revelation 



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VI 



CONTENTS. 



CHAP. 

xvii. consultation 

xviii. the return 

xix. the marriage 

xx. shadows 

xxi. family affairs . 

xxii. Margaret's presentiment 

xxiii. after a tear 

xxiv. twenty years after 

xxv. robert meredith 

xxvi. time and change 

xxvii. the heiress of the deane 

xxviii. the 'raccroc de noces' 

xxix. the first moves in the game 

xxx. drifting 

xxxi. the mine is sprung 

xxxii. the righting of the wrong 



PAGE 

168 
179 
194 
208 
219 
235 
253 
270 
285 
299 
307 
326 
342 
355 
370 
381 



A RIGIITED- WRONG. 



CHAPTEE I. 



HOMEWAED BOUND. 



' Good-bye, again ; good-bye ! ' 

' Good-bye, my dear ; perhaps not for ever, though : I may 
make my -nay back to the old country once more. Tou will 
tell my old friend I kept my word to him ; ' and then the 
speaker kissed the woman to whom he addressed these part- 
ing words tenderly, went quickly away, and was hidden from 
her in a moment by all the bewildering confusion of ' board 
ship ' at the hour of sailing. 

He had not waited for words in reply to his farewell ; 
she could not have spoken them, and he knew it ; and while 
Bhe tried to make out his figure among the groups upon 
the deck, formed of those who were about to set forth upon 
the long perilous ocean voyage, and those who had come to 
bid them good-bye, some with hearts full of agony, a few 
careless and gay enough, a suffocating silence held her. 

1 



2 A EIGHTED WRONG. 

But when at length she saw him for one brief moment 
as he went over the side to the boat waiting to take him to 
the shore so long familiar to her, but already, under the 
wonderful action of change, seeming strange and distant, the 
spell was lifted off her, and a deep gasping sob burst from 
her lips. 

A very little longer, and the boat, with its solitary pas- 
senger, was a speck upon the water ; and then she bowed > 
her head, unconsciously, and slightly waved her hand, and 
went below 

There was no one person in all the crowd upon the deck 
of the good ship Boomerang sufficiently disengaged from his 
or her own cares to take any notice of the little scene which 
had just passed — only one amid a number in the great 
drama which is always being acted, and for which a ship 
with its full complement of passengers, at the moment of 
beginning a long voyage, is a capacious and fine theatre. 
Selfishness and self-engrossment come out strongly in such a 
scene, and are as excusable under such circumstances as they 
ever can be. 

She was quite alone in the little world of the ship ; in 
the great world of England, to which she was going, she 
might find herself alone too, for who could say what tidings 
might await her there ? in the inner world of her heart she 
was still more surely and utterly alone. In the slight 
shiver, in the forlorn glance around, which had accompanied 
her gesture of farewell to the man who had escorted her on 
board, there was something expressive of a suddenly deepened 
sense of this solitude. 

In the cabin, which she shared with her maid only, she 
found this sole and newly-selected companion making such 
preparation as she could for the comfort of her mistress. 
The girl's face was kind and pleasant and handsome ; but the 



HOMEWARD BOUND. 3 

sight of it did not lessen the sense of her solitude to Margaret 
Hungerford, for the kind and handsome face was also strange. 

Rose Moore, whom she had engaged to act as her servant 
during the voyage, was an orphan girl, who wished to re- 
turn to Ireland to her ' friends,' as the Irish people, with 
striking inaccuracy of speech and touching credulity, de- 
signate their relatives. 

When Margaret Hungerford had lain down upon the 
little crib, which was to serve her for a bed during a period 
which would sound appalling in duration in the ears of a 
world so much accelerated in everything as our world of 
to-day is, she thought of Eose Moore, and of the difference 
between her own position and that of the girl who was to 
be her companion. 

' She is going home to friends,' she thought, ' to a warm 
welcome, to a kindly fireside, and she is bringing money 
with her to gild the welcome, to gladden the hearth ; while 
I — I am returning alone — oh, how utterly alone ! — and 
destitute — ah, how destitute ! — I, to whom not even the past 
is left ; I, who do not possess even the right to grieve ; I, to 
whom life has been only a mistake, only a delusion. I am re- 
turning to a home in which I was regarded rather as a trouble 
than anything else in my childhood, and which I was held to 
have disgraced in my girlhood. Returning to it, to feel that 
the judgment I set aside, the wisdom I derided, was right 
judgment and true wisdom, and that the best I can hope is to 
keep them from ever finding out how terribly right they 
were. The only real friend I now possess I am leaving be- 
hind me here ; and I am glad it is so, because he knows all 
the truth. Surely no one in the world can be more lonely 
than I.' 

Margaret Hungerford lay quietly in her narrow bed, 
while the ship resounded with all the indescribable and ex- 



4 A RIGHTED WRONG. 

cruciating noises which form a portion of the tortures of a 
sea-voyage. 

She did not suffer from them, nor from the motion. She 
was tired, too tired in body and mind to care about dis- 
comfort, and she did not dislike the sea. So she lay still, 
while Rose Moore moved about in the little space allotted to 
the two, and which she regarded as a den rather than a 
' state-room,' looking now and then curiously at her mistress, 
whom she had not had much previous opportunity of ob- 
serving. 

The girl looked at a face which was not less remarkable 
for its beauty than for its expression of weariness and 
sorrow, at a figure not more noticeable for its grace and 
suppleness than for the languor and listlessness which every 
movement betrayed. 

Margaret Hungerford was tall, but not so tall as to be 
remarked for her height ; and her figure, rounded and lithe, 
had still much of the slightness of girlhood remaining. Her 
face was not perfect ; the forehead was too high and too 
heavy for ideal beauty ; there was not enough colour in 
the clear pale cheek ; there was not enough richness in the 
outline of the delicate mouth. Her face was one in which 
intellect ruled, and thus its beauty served a master which is 
pitiless in its exactions, and wears out the softness and the 
fineness and the tinting in a service which is not gentle. 

But it was a beautiful face for all that, more than beauti- 
ful for those who looked beyond the deep dark colouring of 
the large gray eyes, deep-set under the finely-marked brows ; 
who looked for the spirit in their light, for the calm and 
courage which lent them the limpid placid beaming which was 
their ordinary characteristic. It was not a perfect face • but 
it had that which very few perfect faces possess — the capacity 



HOMEWARD BOUND. ,j 

for expressing feeling, intelligence, the nobler passions, and 
utter forgetfulness of self. 

To look at Margaret Hungerford was to feel that, how- 
ever faulty her character might be, it at least was noble, 
and to know that vanity had no share in an organization 
which had no place for anything small, whether good or 
evil. It was a magnanimous resolute face — not strong, in 
any sense implying roughness, hardness, or self-assertion, 
but evincing a large capacity of loving and working and 
suffering. 

And she had loved and worked and suffered. The 
bloom that was wanting to her pure fair cheek, which 
touched too faintly and grudgingly her small, well-curved, 
but ascetic lips, had vanished from her heart as well ; the 
slight white fingers, too thin for beauty, — though the hands, 
clasped over her breast as she lay still with closed eyes, 
were curiously small and perfectly shaped, — had been un- 
sparingly used in many and various kinds of toil in the new 
land, which had been wild and rough indeed when she had 
come there. 

The girl looked at her admiringly, and with a sort of 
pity, for which she had no reason to give to herself except 
that her mistress was a widow. Explanation enough, she 
would have said, and naturally ; and still, there was some- 
thing in the face which Rose Moore felt, in her untaught, 
instinctive, but very acute fashion, had been there longer 
than three months, which was the exact period since Mrs 
Hungerford's husband had died. 

Who was she going to ? she thought ; and did she like 
going home ? and what was she leaving behind ? Not her 
husband's grave, the girl knew, and felt the knowledge as 
an Irish peasant would feel it. No, she had not even that 



6 A RIGHTED WRONG. 

consolation ; for her husband, who had been a member of 
one of the earliest-formed exploring parties who had under- 
taken to investigate the capacities of the unknown new 
continent, had been killed in the Australian bush. It was 
better not to think what the fate of his remains had been, 
better that it was not known. 

What, then, was this pale young widow, who looked as 
though her sorrow far antedated her weeds, leaving behind 
her ? Rose Moore was not destined to know. What was 
she going to ? the girl wondered. In the short time she had 
been with her, Mrs Hungerford's kindness had been accom- 
panied with strict reserve, and Rose had learned no more 
than that she was returning, probably, to her father's home; 
but of even that she was not certain. 

Thus the ' lone woman ' seemed pitiable to the gay and 
handsome Irish girl, and the thought of it interfered with 
her visions of ' home,' and her exultation in the money she 
had to take thither, and the love she was going to find. 

Pitiable indeed she was. 

As the long low banks of Port Phillip faded from the 
sight of the passengers on board the ' homeward bound,' not 
a heart among the number but yearned with some keen and 
strong regret, too keen and strong to be overborne by the 
gladness of hope and the relief of having really begun the 
long voyage. Wot a heart, not even that of Margaret 
Hungerford ; for she had looked her last on the land where 
she had left her youth, and all its dreams and hopes ; where 
love had died for her, and truth had failed ; where she had 
been rudely awakened, and had never again found rest. 

At such a time, at such a crisis in life, retrospection is 
inevitable, however undesirable; however painful and vain, it 
must be submitted to. The mind insists on passing the 
newly-expired epoch in review ; in repeating, in the full and 



HOMEWAKD BOUND. 7 

painful candour of its reverie, all the story so far told ; in 
returning to the old illusions, and exposing their baseless- 
ness ; in summoning up the defeated hopes, which, gauged 
by the measure of disappointment, appears so unreason- 
able — weighed in the balance of experience, seem so absurd. 

Can I ever have been such a fool as to have believed 
that life held such possibilities ? is the question we all ask 
at such times ; and the self-contempt which inspires it is 
only as real, and no more, as the pain which no scorn or 
wonder can decrease. 

So, like one performing an enforced task, with what 
patience it is possible to command, but wearily, and longing 
for the end, and for release, Margaret Hungerford, during 
the early days of the long voyage from Australia to England, 
gazed into her past life as into a mirror, and it gave her 
back a succession of images, of which the chief were these 
which follow. 



CHAPTEE II. 

PAGES FKOSt THE PAST. 



The woman who was now returning to her native land 
after a long and painful exile looked back, in her retrospect- 
ive fancy, upon a home which had external beauty, calm, and 
comfort to recommend it. She was the daughter of a 
gentleman named Carteret, a man of small but independent 
fortune, and whose tastes, which had been too extensively 
and exclusively cultivated for the happiness of his son and 
daughter, led him to prefer a life of quietness and seclusion, 
in which he devoted himself to study, and to the pursuit of 
natural history in particular. 



8 A KIGHTED WKONG. 

Mr Carteret, who is an old man now, might have been 
the original of ' Sir Thomas the Good,' whose wife, ' the fair 
Lady Jane,' displayed such becoming resignation on his 
death. Mr Carteret, like the worthy knight, ' whose breath 
was short, and whose eyes were dim,' would 'pore for an 
hour over a bee or a flower, or the things that come creep- 
ing out after a shower ;' but he was sadly blind to the subtle 
processes of the human heart in the development of the 
human beings under his own roof, which were taking place 
around him. 

He had lost his wife very soon after the birth of his 
daughter, and when his son was three years old; and within 
little more than a year, a resolute young woman, who had 
long made up her mind that a pretty little country place 
within easy distance of London, — for Mr Carteret lived in 
Reigate, — a fair position in the county society, and a 
comfortable income, were desirable acquisitions, married 
him. 

People said Miss Martley made all the preliminary ar- 
rangements', including even the proposal, herself; and 
though that statement was probably exaggerated, there can 
be little doubt that the suggestion, that it would be an ad- 
visable and agreeable circumstance that Miss Martley should 
become Mrs Carteret, originated with the lady. 

She was rather young, and rather pretty; and there 
really was not so much to be said against the match, except by 
Mr Carteret's servants, who naturally did not like it. They 
liked it still less when the new mistress of the establishment, 
emulating the proverbial new broom, swept them all away, 
and replaced them by domestics of her own selection. 

The novel state of things was not a happy condition for 
Mr Carteret. He was a gentle-natured man, indifferent 
rather cold, and indolent, except where his particular tastes 



PAGES FROM THE PAST. 9 

were concerned ; he pursued his own avocations with ac- 
tivity and energy enough, but his easy-going selfishness ren- 
dered him a facile victim to a woman who managed him by 
the simple and effectual expedient of letting him have his 
own way undisturbed, in one direction, — that one the most 
important to him, — and never consulting his opinion or his 
wishes in any other respect whatever. 

Mr Carteret might spend time and money on 'specimens,' 
on books, and on visits to naturalists and museums; he 
might fill his own rooms with stuffed monkeys and birds, and 
indulge in the newest form of cases for impaled insects, and 
even display very ghastly osteological trophies if he pleased ; 
his wife in nowise molested him. But here his power was 
arrested — here his freedom stopped. Mrs Carteret ruled in 
everything else ; and he knew it, and he suffered it ' for the 
sake of a quiet life.' He had a conviction that if he tried 
opposition, his life would not be quiet ; therefore he never 
did try opposition. 

The new Mrs Carteret did not actually ill-treat the chil- 
dren of the former Mrs Carteret ; she only neglected them — 
neglected them so steadily and systematically that never was 
she betrayed into accidentally taking them, their interests or 
their pleasure, into consideration in anything she chose to 
do or to leave undone. 

The servants understood quickly and thoroughly that if 
they meant to retain their places they nmst keep the chil- 
dren from annoying Mrs Carteret, from incommoding her by 
their presence, or intruding their wants upon her. They 
understood as distinctly, that if this fact were impressed by 
any misplaced zeal upon the attention of Mr Carteret, the 
imprudence would be as readily repaid by dismissal ; and as 
they liked and valued their places,— for Mrs Carteret, pro- 
vided her own comfort was secured in every particular, was 



10 A RIGHTED WRONG. 

a liberal and careless mistress, — the imprudent zeal never 
was manifested. 

Thus the two young children grew up, somehow, anyhow, 
well-fed and well-clothed, by the care of servants ; but in 
every particular, apart from their mere animal wants, utterly 
neglected. People talked about it, of course ; and just at 
first the neglect of her husband's children threatened to be 
a little detrimental to the popularity which Mrs Carteret 
ardently desired to attain. But she gave pleasant garden- 
parties, at which neither husband nor children ' showed ; ' 
she dressed very well ; she was very kind to the young ladies 
of the neighbourhood who were still on their preferment ; 
her well-trained household were discreetly silent ; and she 
had no children of her own. 

This last was readily accepted as a very valid excuse ; no 
one thought of the total absence of wifely sympathy and 
womanly tenderness which the argument conveyed. Mrs 
Carteret could not be expected to care about children — no 
one really did who had not children of their own ' to arouse 
the instinct,' as a foolish female, who fancied the phrase 
sounded philosophical, remarked. So the neighbourhood con- 
sented to forget Mr Carteret's children, and that contem- 
plative gentleman consented to remember them very imper- 
fectly, and things were very comfortable at Chayleigh for 
some years. 

But Haldane and Margaret Carteret grew older with 
those years ; the little children, who had been easily stowed 
away in a nursery and a playroom,— judiciously distant from 
drawing-room, boudoir, and study, — were no longer of an 
age to be so disposed of. The boy must either be sent to 
school or have a tutor, — he and his sister had passed beyond 
the rule of the nursery governess, — the girl's education 
must be attended to. 



PAGES FROM THE PAST. 11 

The latter case was especially disagreeable; to Mrs Car- 
teret. It forced upon her attention the fact that she was no 
longer in the first bloom of her youth. A rather young aud 
rather pretty stepmother is capable of being made interesting, 
if the situation be judiciously treated ; but Mr3 Carteret had 
never treated it judiciously, and now it could not avail. 

She had nearly exhausted her role of young matronhood 
at thirty-seven, and Margaret was then twelve years old. 
True, there would be a revival of its material pleasures, its 
gaieties and dissipations, when Margaret should be ' brought 
out ; ' but Mrs Carteret found feeble consolation in the an- 
ticipation of the pleasures and importance of chaperonage. 
They can only be reflected at the best ; and Mrs Carteret 
cared little to shine with a borrowed light. 

In the mean time, she had no notion of having a gawky 
girl, as she called Margaret in her thoughts, always about 
her at home, growing old enough to interfere, and perhaps 
to attract her father's attention unduly and put absurd ideas 
into his head. Margaret Carteret was not at all gawky ; 
but even then, at the least beautiful period of life, gave pro- 
mise of the grace and distinction which afterwards charac- 
terized her. 

Mrs Carteret made up her mind, and then informed her 
husband of the resolution she had taken, and the arrange- 
ments she had made. He acquiesced, as he always did ; and 
when Margaret, startled, confused, not knowing whether to 
.be frightened at or pleased with the novelty which the pro- 
spect offered, asked him if it was really true that she waa 
going to school at Paris, and was not to return for a whole 
year, he said placidly, 

' Certainly, my dear. Mrs Carteret has arranged it all ; 
and I have told her to be sure and ask the school people to 
take you to the Jardin des Plantes.' 



12 A RIGHTED WRONG. 

Then Mr Carteret, who never perceived that his daugh- 
ter was no longer a baby, sent her away with a pat on the 
head, and turned his attention to investigating the structure 
of a ' trap-door spider's abode,' which had reached him the 
day before, having been sent by a friend and fellow-naturalist 
from Corfu. 

The education of Haldane Carteret had been differently 
provided for. It chanced that the one human being besides 
herself for whom Mrs Carteret entertained a sentiment of 
affection was her cousin, James Dugdale, a young man who 
had no chance of success in any active career in life, being 
deformed and in delicate health — anything but a desirable 
tutor for a delicate retiring boy, like Haldane Carteret, 
people said — a boy who needed encouragement and com- 
panionship to rouse him up and make him more like other 
boys. But Mrs Carteret evinced her usual indifference to 
the opinion of ' people ' on this occasion. She chose to 
provide for her cousin a mode of life suitable to his mental 
and physical constitution. 

James Dugdale came to live at Chayleigh. The deformed 
young man had much of the talent, and all the unamiability, 
which so frequently accompany bodily malformation, and he 
inspired Margaret Carteret with intense dislike and repul- 
sion — with admiration and some respect, too, child as she 
was ; for she soon recognized his talent, and succumbed to 
his influence. James Dugdale taught Margaret as much as 
he taught her brother ; he implanted in her the tastes which 
she afterwards cultivated so assiduously ; but the boy learned 
to love him, while the girl never faltered in her dislike. 
"When she found her lessons easily understood and soon 
learned at school, she knew that she had to thank her step- 
mother's cousin — her brother's tutor — for the aid which had 
rendered them light to her ; but she never could bring her- 



PAGES FROM THE PAST. 13 

self to thank him in thought or word. The girl's heart was 
almost void of love and gratitude at this time of her life. 
She hardly could be said to love her father ; her stepmother 
she neither loved, hated, nor feared ; for her brother alone 
were all her kindly feelings hoarded up. She loved him, in- 
deed ; and, next to that love, the strongest sentiment in her 
heart was dislike of James Dugdale. 

Time passed on, and Margaret grew up handsome, with 
a strongly intellectual stamp upon her face, and, in her cha- 
racter, self-will and impulsiveness prevailing. She liked the 
Parisian school — for she ruled her companions, some by love, 
others by fear and the power of party — and she cared little 
for her home, where she could not rule any one. 

Her father was not worth governing; her stepmother 
she treated with a studious and settled indifference, forming 
her manner on the model of that of Mrs Carteret, but never 
attempting to gain any influence over that lady, who was, 
however, not without a misgiving at times that when Mar- 
garet should come home ' for good ' she might find it rather 
difficult to ' hold her own.' Holding her own, in Mrs Car- 
teret's case, rather implied holding every one else's, and 
that privilege she felt to be in danger. It was, therefore, 
with but a passing reflection on the fatal obstacle which such 
an occurrence must offer to her maintenance of the 'young 
married woman's ' position in society, that Mrs Carteret, 
when Margaret was fifteen, began to speculate upon the 
chances of getting Margaret ' off her hands,' when she 
should have finally left school, by an opportune marriage. 

A year later, and, much to the surprise of his father, and 
indeed of every one who knew him except James Dugdale, 
Haldane Carteret proclaimed his wish and intention of 
entering the army. His father did not oppose ; his step- 
mother and his tutor supported him in his inclination ; the 



14 A RIGHTED WRONG. 

interest of a distant relative of his mother's was procured ; 
and thus it chanced that, when Margaret came home ' for 
good,' at a little more than sixteen years old, she found her 
brother in all the boyish pride and exultation of his com- 
mission and his uniform. 

Then Margaret's fate was not long in coming. The first 
time her brother came home, and while she had as yet seen 
little of the society in which her stepmother moved, he 
brought a brother officer with him, a handsome young man, 
named Godfrey Hungerford, with whom he had contracted 
a friendship — the more enthusiastic because it was the first 
the lad had ever experienced. 

And now active antagonism arose between Margaret 
Carteret and James Dugdale. The girl fell in love with the 
handsome young officer, whose bold and adventurous spirit 
pleased her ; whose manifest admiration had a pardonable 
fascination for her ; who raised even her father to animation ; 
and for whom Mrs Carteret thought it worth while to put 
forth the freshest of her somewhat faded graces. 

Haldane paraded and boasted of his friend according to 
the foolish hearty fashion of his time of life, and was de- 
lighted that his sister felt with him in this too. 

But the ex-tutor, who, it appeared, was to remain a 
fixture at Chayleigh, conceived a profound distrust and dis- 
like of the brilliant young man, whom he quietly observed 
from his obscure corner of the house — and of life indeed 
— and who had no notion of the scrutiny he was under- 
going. 

Was James Dugdale's penetration quickened by the 
hardly-veiled insolence of Godfrey Hungerford' s manner to 
him — insolence which sometimes took the form of complete 
unconsciousness, and at others of an elaborate compassionate 
politeness ? It may have been so ; at any rate, he made 



PAGES FROM THE PAST. 15 

his observations closely, and, when the time came, he ex- 
pressed their result freely. 

The time came when Godfrey Hungerford asked Mar- 
garet to become his wife ; and then James Dugdale, for the 
only time during his long residence in Mr Carteret's house, 
spoke to that gentleman in private and in confidence. 

' Insist on time, at least,' he urged upon Margaret's 
father ; ' think how young she is ; think how little you know 
of this man. Tou have no guarantee for his character but 
the praise of an enthusiastic boy. For the girl's sake, insist 
on time ; do not consent to less than a two years' engage- 
ment ; and then rouse yourself, and go to work as a man 
ought on whom such a responsibility rests, and find out all 
about this man before you suffer him to take your daughter 
away from her home — a girl, ignorant of the world and of 
life, in love with her own fancy I know Margaret's real 
nature better than you do, and I know she is incapable of 
caring for this man if she knew him as he really is. It is a 
delusion ; if you can do no more, you can at least secure her 
time to find it out.' 

' Find what out ? ' asked Mr Carteret, fretfully ; ' what 
do you know about Hungerford ?■ — how have you found out 
anything ? ' 

' I know nothing ; I have not found out anything,' said 
James Dugdale. ' I wish I had, then my interference might 
avail, even with Margaret herself; but I have only my con- 
viction to go upon, that this man is not fit to be trusted with 
a woman's happiness ; that Margaret is not really attached to 
him ; and, in addition, the suggestion of common sense, that 
she is much too young to be permitted to settle her own fate 
irrevocably.' 

The latter argument seemed to have some weight with 
Mr Carteret, and James Dugdale saw his advantage. 



16 A SIGHTED WRONG. 

' Do you think,' he said, ' if her mother were living, she 
would permit Margaret to marry at her present age ? Do 
you think, if you knew you would have to .account to her 
mother for your care of her, you would listen to such a thing ? ' 

This reference to his dead wife was not pleasant to Mr 
Carteret. He was growing old, and he had begun of late to 
think life, even when surrounded by specimens, and enlivened 
by numerous publications concerning the animal creation, 
rather a mistake. So he assented, hurriedly, to James Dug- 
dale's arguments, and the interview concluded by his pro- 
mising to prevent Margaret's marriage taking place for two 
years, when she would be nineteen. 

But Mr Carteret and James Dugdale both knew that the 
real decision of that matter rested not with them, but with 
Mrs Carteret, and that, if she decreed that Margaret should 
be married next week, married next week she inevitably would 
be. So the ex-tutor addressed himself to his cousin, with 
whom he adopted a different line of argument. 

' I know you don't care about Margaret,' he said ; ' but I 
do ; and I know you admire Lieutenant Godfrey Hunger- 
ford, which I do not ; but you care what people say of you, 
Sibylla, as much as any one, I know ; and you will get un- 
pleasantly talked about if the girl is allowed to marry, so 
young, a man whom you know little or nothing about, and 
who is a scoundrel, if ever there was one, or I am more mis- 
taken than I generally am. Take care, Sibylla, your husband 
is notoriously under your guidance, and you will have to 
bear the blame if this marriage takes place too soon ; it is a 
serious thing, and you have never been a fond stepmother, 
you know.' 

Mrs Carteret loved her cousin, and feared him- she 
also had a great respect for his judgment; and he had 'gone 
to work with her in the right way. The result was satis- 



TAGES FROM THE TAST. 17 

factory to the ex-tutor, who took himself to task concerning 
his own motives, but found no room for self-condemnation. 

' If I could suppose for a moment,' he thought, ' that I 
am insincere in this thing — that I am actuated by any self- 
ish feeling or hope regarding Margaret — I should hesitate; 
b ut I know I am not : my heart is pure of such self-deception ; 
my brain has no such cobwebs of folly in it. Separated from 
him finally, — if I can contrive to part them, — held back from 
her fate for a while, by my means, at all events she will only 
dislike me the more. And my conviction respecting this 
man, — is that prejudice? — is that an unjust dislike? — is it 
pique, because he has good looks, and grace, and good man- 
ners, and I have none of these ? Is it spite, because he has 
been insolent to me when he dared, and, in a covert way, 
more insolent still, when these simple people did not under- 
stand him ? No ; I can answer to myself for single-minded- 
ness in this matter. I might not have seen so plainly had 
not Margaret's happiness been at stake. But I do see; I 
do not only fancy. I do judge; I do not only imagine.' 

So James Dugdale carried his point. Margaret resented 
his interference bitterly; she learned that his arguments 
had induced her stepmother to take the view to which her 
father had acceded; and she raged against him and denounced 
him as insolent, presuming, intolerable. 

But she liked the idea of the long engagement, too. 
She was romantic and imaginative, and her bright pure 
young heart — all given up to what was in reality a creation 
of her fancy, but in which she saw the dazzling realization 
of her girlish dreams— was satisfied with the assurance of 
loving and being loved. 

The presence of her lover was happiness, and his absence 
was hardly sorrow. Had she not his letters? "Were there 
ever such letters? she thought; and whde she exulted in all 

2 



li 



A RIGHTED WEONG. 



the delicious exclusiveness of the possession of such treasures, 
she almost longed that the world might know how transcend- 
ent a Agnes was this gallant soldier whom she loved. 

She was glad that Godfrey felt so much disappointment 
at the delay; and the impertinence of any one who interfered 
to prevent the fulfilment' of any wish of his, no words could 
adequately describe. But, for all that, Margaret was ex- 
tremely happy, though she did hate James Dugdale. 

Her lover encouraged her in this feeling, and when he and 
her brother had rejoined their regiment she restricted her in- 
tercourse with the officious ex-tutor to the barest acknowledg- 
ment of his presence. James Dugdale took this mode of 
procedure calmly, and applied himself to the task of finding 
out all that was to be ascertained concerning the circum- 
stances, character, and antecedents of Lieutenant Godfrey 
Hungerford. 



CHAPTEE III. 

DISCOMFITURE. 



"Whex the engagement between Godfrey Hungerford 
and Margaret Carteret had lasted six months, during which 
time James Dugdale had contrived to learn several facts to 
that gentleman's disadvantage, Haldane Carteret made his 
appearance unexpectedly at Chayleigh. Margaret's first look 
at her brother revealed to her quick instinctive fears that his 
errand had in it something unfriendly to her love. "With all 
the selfishness which comes of an engrossing feeling, she was 
insensible to any other impulse of alarm. 

Margaret was right ; her brother was come to unsay all 
he had said of Godfrey Hungerford — to tell his father that 



DISCOMFITURE. 19 

lie had been deceived in his friend — to try to undo the work 
he had helped to do. 

' He drinks and gambles, Margaret ; for God's sake, 
don't marry a man with such vices,' said Haldane eagerly to 
his sister. 

Her father roused himself, and warned her too; but the 
girl was obdurate. She only knew of such things by name; 
they had no meaning to her as terrible realities of life; and 
then she had her lover's letters — the priceless, charming, in- 
comparable letters — and they told her that her brother had 
come round to Dugdale's way of thinking, and had turned 
against jhim because he had interfered to keep him out of 
some boyish scrapes. 

The strongest and most spurious of all arguments too, used 
to a loving foolish girl, were not wanting. If even he were 
guilty of some follies, granting that he was not a perfect be- 
ing, could he fail to become so under her influence — could he 
resist such perfection as hers, become the light and guidance 
of his home? It is needless to repeat the flimsy foolish strain 
of the arguments which bewildered and beguiled the girl. 
She met her father and her brother with vehement opposition, 
and replied to everything they urged, that she alone knew, 
she only understood Godfrey, and she was not going to for- 
sake him to serve the turn of interested calumniators. 

This taunt, aimed at the brother, did not hit the mark. 
He had not the least notion to what it referred. The young 
man spoke frankly and gently to the infatuated girl, lamented 
his own easy credulity which had at first betrayed his judg- 
ment, and finally left the matter in his father's hands, only 
entreating him to be firm, and to take into consideration, in 
addition to what he had told him, certain circumstances 
which had come to the knowledge of James Dugdale. For 
himself, the pain of enforced association with his quondam 



20 A EIGHTED WRONG. 

friend would soon be at an end. The brigade of Royal 
Artillery to which he belonged was then under orders for 
Canada, and this was to be his farewell visit to his home. 

The brother and sister parted, in sorrow on Haldane's 
part — in silent and sullen estrangement on Margaret's. The 
girl's heart was full of angry and bitter revolt, and of the 
keen indignation which inexperienced youth feels against 
those who strive to serve it against its will. They were try- 
ing to protect her from herself — to save her from the worst 
of evils — the most cruel of destinies ; and she treated them 
as if they had been, as indeed she believed them to be her 
worst enemies. 

But they were not to succeed — Margaret was not to be 
saved. The girl's life at home — though no one molested 
her — though her father, if the matter were not pressed upon 
his attention, took no notice — though her stepmother was, 
as usual, coldly but civilly negligent of her — though James 
Dugdale maintained his inoffensive reserve — became intoler- 
able to her ; intolerable through its loneliness — intolerable 
by reason of its cross-purposes. The one thought, the one 
image, the one hope for which she lived was not only un- 
shared, but condemned by those with whom she lived. The 
one name precious to her heart, delightful to her ears, was 
never spoken within her hearing — the little world she lived 
in ignored him who was all the world to her. 

When Haldane Carteret had been three months in 
Canada, Godfrey Hungerford was dismissed the service for 
conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman; and in 
another month, Margaret Carteret had clandestinely left 
her home, joined her lover, and become his wife. 

The shock to her father was very severe. It was the 
first misfortune of his life, including his first wife's death 
to which ' specimens ' offered no alleviation. It was not an 



DISCOMFITURE. 21 

evil which brought finality with it ; and Mr Carteret there- 
fore found it difficult to bear. If Margaret had died, her 
father would have grieved for her, no doubt, but there 
would have been an end of it ; now, though no one could 
foresee or foretell the end, it was easy to prognosticate, evil 
as the result, and impossible to hope for good. 

Like all men of his sort, Mr Carteret had a great horror 
of the openly violent and aggressive vices of men. He was 
incapable of understanding the amount of suffering to be 
inflicted upon women by the supineness, selfishness, indo- 
lence, imprudence, or eccentricity of their husbands and 
fathers ; but the mere idea of a woman being in the power 
of a man who actually got drunk, lost or won money at 
cards or dice, used bad language, or had any stain of dis- 
honesty on his name, was terrible to his harmless, if value- 
less, nature. 

Mrs Carteret was extremely indifferent. Of course it 
was an unpleasant occurrence, and people would talk un- 
pleasantly about it ; but she had never pretended to care 
much for, or interfere with, Miss Carteret, — and no one 
could blame her. 

Of all those who had shared her life, who had seen her 
grow from childhood to girlhood, James Dugdale was the 
only one who had made Margaret Carteret's character a 
subject of close and loving study — the only one who under- 
stood its strength and its weakness, its forcible points of 
contrast, its lurking dangers, its unseen resources. He 
knew her intellectual qualities, he knew her imaginativeness, 
and understood the danger which lurked in it for her — a 
danger which had already taken so delusive and fatal a form. 
"With all the prescience of a calm and unselfish affection, he 
feared for the girl's future, and grieved as only mature wis- 
dom and disinterested love can grievo over the follies and 



22 A RIGHTED WKONG. 

illusions, the inevitable suffering and disenchantment, of 
youth and wilfulness. 

' She has a dreadful life before her,' said her misjudged 
and despised friend to himself, as he left Margaret's father, 
after the two had discussed the letter in which the mis- 
guided girl had informed him of her marriage ; ' a dreadful 
life, I fear, and believe ; but, if she lives through it, and over 
it, and takes it rightly, she may be a noble and strong 
woman yet, though never a happy one.' 

For some time Margaret Hungerford's communications 
with her family were brief and infrequent. She said nothing 
iu her letters of happiness or the reverse, and she made no 
request to be permitted to revisit her former home. She 
never wrote to or heard from her brother. 

After a while a formal application was made to Mr 
Carteret by Mr Hungerford for pecuniary assistance, as he 
had determined to try his fortune in Australia. To this Mr 
Carteret replied that he would give Margaret half the small 
fortune which was to have been hers on his death, but re- 
quired that it should be distinctly understood that she had 
nothing more to expect from him. 

Mr Carteret went up to London and drew the sum he 
had named, 5001,, out of the funds, and availed himself of 
that opportunity to make his will, by which he bequeathed 
to his son all his property, a life-interest in the greater part 
of which had been secured to his wife by settlement. This 
done, and provided with the money he had named, he went 
to see Margaret and her husband. The meeting was brief 
and final. Mr Carteret returned on the following day to 
Chayleigh. 

Godfrey Hungerford and his wife were to sail for Sydney 
in a fortnight, he told Mrs Carteret, in reply to her polite 



THE IDEAL AND THE EEAL. 23 

but quite uninterested inquiries. Nov was lie much more 
communicative to James Dugdale. 

' How does she look ? ' he asked. 

The father made no reply, but shook his head, and moved 
his hands nervously among the papers on the table before 
him. 

' Already ! ' 6aid James Dugdale, when he had softly left 
the room, and then he went away and shut himself up alone. 



CHAPTEE IV 

THE IDEAL AND THE BEAD. 



If it were possible to linger over the story of Margaret 
Hungerford's life — if other and later interests did not per- 
emptorily claim attention — how much might be said con- 
cerning it ? On the surface, it had many features in com- 
mon with other lives ; and the destruction of a fancy, the 
awaking to a truth, terrible and not to be eluded, is the least 
rare of mental processes. But the individual history of 
every mind, of every heart, has features unlike those of all 
others — features worthy, in even the humblest and simplest 
lives, of close scanning and of faithful reproduction. Mar- 
garet Hungerford was not an ordinary person ; she had 
strongly-pronounced intellectual and moral characteristics, 
and her capacity, whether for good or evil time and her 
destiny alone could tell, was great. 

The very intensity of her nature, which had made it easy 
for her to be deceived, easy for her to build a fair fabric of 
hope and love on no sounder foundation than her fancy, 
made it inevitable that the truth should come with terrible 



24 A SIGHTED WRONG. 

force to her, and be understood in its fullest extent and in 
its darkest meaning — that most full of terror and despair. 

The external circumstances of her life subsequent to her 
marriage did not affect Margaret Hungerford so much as 
might have been anticipated, in consideration of her delicate 
nurture, her previous life of seclusion, and her habitual 
refinement. She was destined to encounter many vicissi- 
tudes, to endure poverty, hardship, uncertainty, solitude 
of the absolute kind, and of that kind which is still more 
unbearable— enforced companionship with the mean and 
base, not in position merely, but in soul. 

She had to endure many actual privations — to do many 
things, to witness many scenes which, if they had been un- 
folded to her in the home of her girlhood, uncongenial as it 
had been, as probabilities lurking in the plan of the future, 
she would have merely regarded with unalarmed incredulity, 
would have put aside as things which never could have any 
existence. 

But these things, when they came, she bore well — bom 
them with strength and patience, with quiet resolution and 
almost indifference, which, had there been any one to con- 
template the girl's life, and study her character at that time, 
would have revealed the truth that worse things than priva- 
tion and hardship had come to her, and had rendered them 
indifferent to her. 

Worse things had come. Knowledge and experience, 
which had outraged her pride and tortured her love, crushed 
her faith, scattered her hopes, and left her life a desert waste, 
whence the flowers of youth and trust had been uprooted, 
and which lay bare to be trampled under- foot of invadin°- 
foes. 

Margaret's delusion had lasted so short a time after her 
marriage, that the first feeling her discovery of the utter 



THE IDEAL AND THE EEAL. l-> 

worthlessness of the man into whose hands she had committed 
her fate produced in her mind was dread and distrust of 
herself. 

"Was this fading away of love, this dying out of all 
respect, of all enthusiasm, this dreary hopelessness and fast 
coming disbelief in good, was all this inconstancy on her 
part ? Was she false to her own feelings, or had she mis- 
taken them ? Was she light and fickle, as men were said 
to be? 

But this dread soon subsided : it could not long disturb 
Margaret's clear good sense. The fault was not hers ; she 
was not inconstant, though she no longer loved Godfrey 
Hungerford. The truth was, she had never known him ; 
there was no such person as her fancy had created and 
called by his name. 

She had believed herself to be doing a fine heroic thing 
Avhen she married a disgraced man, a man unjustly judged 
of his fellows, one against whom the world had set itself — 
why, she did not quite know, but probably from envy — 
and who therefore needed her love and fidelity more than 
a prosperous man could need them. It was a foolish, 
girlish, not unnatural delusive notion of grandeur and 
self-sacrifice, and, added to the fascination exerted over 
her by Godfrey Hungerford's good looks and artistic love- 
making, it had hurried Margaret to her doom. 

The girl married, as she believed, a hero, with a few 
follies perhaps, all to be forsworn and forsaken when she 
should be his, to guide and inspire every moment of his 
life, and whose unjust penalties her love was to render 
harmless. What did she not believe him to be ! Brave, 
true, generous, devoted, clever, energetic, unworldly, poet- 
ical, high-minded, and pure — the ideal man who was to 
disprove those horrid sayings of disappointed persons, that 



<ib A EIGHTED WKONG. 

the lover and the husband are very different beings 3 , and 
that ' man's love is of man's life a thing apart.' 

They would prove it to be their ' whole existence.' 
Could any sacrifice be too great to make for such a prize 
as this ? ISTo. The sacrifice was made by him. "Who 
would not have loved and married Godfrey Hungerford ? 
She did not believe that any one could be so bad as to 
believe the accusation brought against him by a low mean 
clique, a set of men who could not bear to know that he 
was cleverer at card-playing than they were — just as he 
v/as cleverer at anything else — and who did not know how 
to lose their money like gentlemen. Of course, as he never 
could be secured against meeting persons of the sort, it 
was much better that Godfrey should make up his mind, as 
he had done, never to touch a card after their marriage. 

And then how great was his love for her ! How delight- 
ful was the scheme of the future, according to his casting 
of it ! So Margaret dreamed her dream, and when the 
waking came she blamed herself that she could dream it 
no longer, and could not be lulled to sleep again. 

Godfrey Hungerford has no place in this story, and there 
is no need to enter into details of the life he led, and con- 
demned his wife to. He proved the exact reverse of all she 
had believed him. Base, mean, cowardly, in the sense of the 
cowardice which makes a man systematically cruel to every 
creature, human and brute, within his power, though ready 
to face danger for bravado's, and exertion for boasting's sake, 
or either for that of money — a liar, a gambler, and a pro- 
fligate. 

He laughed at her credulity when she quoted his promises 
to her, and ridiculed her amazement and disgust as ignorance 
of life, girlish folly, and squeamishness. In a fitful ' worth- 
less ' sort of way, he liked and admired her to the end • but 



THE IDEAL AND THE EEAL. It 

the truthfulness that was in her prevented Margaret from 
taking advantage of this contemptible remnant of feeling to 
obtain easier terms of life. She had ceased to love him, and 
she never disguised the fact — she let him see it ; when ho 
questioned her, in a moment of maudlin sentiment, she told 
him so quite plainly ; and her tyrant made the truthfulness 
which could not stoop to simulation a fresh cause of com- 
plaint against her. 

"What Margaret suffered, no words, not even her own, 
could tell ; but the material troubles, the grinding anxieties 
of her life, deadened her sense of grief after a time. They 
were always poor. Money melted in the hands of her worth- 
less, selfish husband. Sometimes he made a little, in some 
of the numerous ways in which money was to be made in 
colonial life, sometimes he was quite unemployed. He was 
always dissolute and a spendthrift. 

It was hard training for Margaret, severe teaching, and 
not more full of actual pain, privation, and toil than of bitter 
humiliation. They moved about from place to place, for at 
each Godfrey Hungerford became known and shunned. 

Villany and vice were loud and rampant indeed in the 
New World then, as now ; but he was not so clever as the 
superior villains, and not so low, not so irretrievably ruffianly, 
as the inferior ruffians, and it fell out, somehow, that he did 
not find any permanent place, or take any specific rank, 
among them. Of necessity, suffering, both moral and mate- 
rial, was his wife's lot, and it was wonderful that such suf- 
fering did not degrade, that it only hardened her. It 
certainly did harden her, making her cold, indifferent, and 
difficult to be touched by, or convinced of, good, or truth, or 
honesty. 

Of necessity, also, her life had been devoid of companion- 
ship. Too proud to tell her sorrows, and unable to endure 



28 A RIGHTED WRONG. 

the associations into which her husband's evil life would have- 
led her had she been driven by loneliness to relax in her 
resolute isolation, she had neither sympathy nor pity in her 
wretchedness. But at length, and when things were going 
very hard and ill with her, she found a friend. 

Time, suffering, and disenchantment had taught Mar- 
garet Hungerford many hard and heavy, but salutary, lessons, 
before the days came which brought her fate this alleviation ; 
and she did not regret it, because it had been procured for 
h'er by the care and solicitude of James Dugdale. 

Her love had died — more than died ; for there is rever- 
ence and pious grief, with sweetness in its agony, and 
cherished recollections, to modify death and make it merciful 
■ — it had perished. So had her dislike of James Dugdale. 
He had been right, and she had been wrong ; and though 
he could never be her friend, because she never could admit 
to him the one fact or the other, she thought gently and 
regretfully of him, when she thought of her old home and 
of the past at all, which was not often, for the present 
absorbed her usually in its misery and its toil. 

When, in the course of their wanderings, the Hunger- 
fords went to the then infant town, now the prosperous 
city, of Melbourne, Margaret sent home one of her in- 
frequent letters to her father. Thus James Dugdale learned 
that the woman whose fate he had so unerringly foreseen — 
the woman he loved with calm, disinterested, clear-sighted 
aifection — was at length within reach of his influence, of his 
indirect help. 

An old friend, schoolfellow, and college chum — one Hayes 
Meredith, a younger man than James Dugdale by a few 
years — had been among the first of those tempted from the 
life of monotonous toil in England by the vast and exciting 



THE IDEAL AND THE EEAL. 29 

prospects which the youug colony offered to energy, industry, 
ability, and courage. 

Hayes Meredith possessed all these, and some capital too. 
He had settled at Port Phillip, and was a thriving and re- 
spected member of the motley community when Godfrey and 
Margaret Hungerford arrived to swell the tide of adventure 
and misery. To him James Dugdale wrote, on behalf of the 
woman whose need he divined, whose unhappiness he felt, 
with the instinct of sympathy. 

Hayes Meredith responded nobly to his old friend's 
appeal. He befriended Margaret steadily, with and without 
her husband's knowledge ; be won her affection, conquered 
her reserve, softened her pride, and, though her fate was 
beyond amelioration by human aid, he succeeded in making 
her actual, everyday life more endurable. 

"When Margaret was sought out by Hayes Meredith, re- 
lease was drawing near, release from the tremendous evil of 
her marriage. Godfrey Hungerford, by this time utterly in- 
capable of any steady pursuit, and seized with one of the 
reckless, restless fits which were becoming more and more 
frequent with him, joined a party of explorers bound for 
the unknown interior of the continent, and, regardless of 
Margaret's fears and necessities, left her alone in the town. 

For months she heard nothing of him, or the fate of the 
expedition ; months during which she was kept from desti- 
tution only by Hayes Meredith's generous and unfailing aid. 

At length news came ; a few stragglers from the party 
of explorers returned. Godfrey Hungerford was not among 
them ; and the remnant related that he had been murdered, 
with two others, by a tribe of aborigines. 

Hayes Meredith told Margaret the truth ; he sustained 
and comforted her in the early days of her horror and grief; 



30 A RIGHTED WRONG. 

he counselled her return to England, and provided money 
for her voyage. He secured her cabin and the services of 
Eose Moore. It was he who bade her farewell upon the 
deck of the Boomerang — he of whom she thought as her 
only friend. 

Margaret had little power of feeling, love, or gratitude 
in her now, as she believed, and that little was exerted for 
the alert, kindly-voiced, gray-haired, keen-eyed man who 
left her with a heavy heart, and said to himself, as the 
boat shot away from the ship's side, ' Poor giii ! she has 
had hard lines of it hitherto. I wonder what is before her 
in England ! ' 



CHAPTER V 

CHATLEIGH. 

A bright soft day in the autumn — a day which appeal- 
ed to all who dwelt in houses to come forth and taste the 
last lingering flavour of the summer in the sweet air — a day 
so still and peaceful that the sudden rustle of the leaves, as 
a few of their number (ennuycs leaves, tired of life sooner 
than their fellows) detached themselves, and came, gently 
wafted by the imperceptible air, to the ground, made one 
look round, as though at an intrusion upon its perfect re- 
pose — -a day which appealed to memory, and said, ' Am I 
not like some other day in your life, on which you have pon- 
dered many things in your heart, and looked far back into 
the past without the agony of regret, and on into the 
future undisturbed by dread — a restful day, when life has 

seemed not bad to have, but very, very good to leave ? ' a 

day on which any settled, stern, inexorable occupation seemed 



CHAYLEIGH. 31 

harder, more unbearable than usual, even to the least 
reasonable and most moderate idler — a day on which the 
house which Margaret Carteret had forsaken looked par- 
ticularly beautiful, tranquil, and inviting. 

The orderliness of Chayleigh was delightful ; it was not 
formal, not oppressive ; it was eminently tasteful. Inside 
the house and outside it order reigned, without tyrannizing. 
The lawn was always swept with extreme nicety, and the 
flower-beds, though not pruned down to a tantalizing pre- 
cision, bore evident signs of artistic care. 

The house stood almost in the centre of the small 
grounds, and long wide French windows in front, and bow 
windows in the rear, opened on smooth grassy terraces, 
which fell away by gentle inclines towards the flower-garden 
in front, and at the back towards a pleasaunce, with high 
prim alleys, and bosquets which in the pride of summer were 
thickset with roses ; and so, to some clumps of noble forest- 
trees, behind which, and hidden, was the neat wire-fence 
which bounded the small demesne. 

On this soft autumnal day, the three bow windows which 
opened on the terrace at the back of the house were open, 
and every now and then the white curtains faintly fluttered, 
and the leaves of the creepers which luxuriously festooned 
the window-frames gently rustled. Par above the height of 
the central window, an aspiring passion-flower, rich in the 
stiff, majestic, symbolical blossom, stretched its branches, 
until they wreathed the window just above the centre bow, 
and aided an impertinent rose to look into the room. They 
had looked in ever since the one had blossom and the other 
leaves, but they had seen nothing there that lived or moved. 

The middle room, above the suite of drawing-rooms — - 
whose rosewood furniture, whose Ambusson carpets, and 
whose sparkling girandoles formed the chief delight and 



6'A A RIGHTED WRONG. 

pride of Mrs Carteret's not particularly capacious heart — 
had not been used since Margaret Carteret had left her 
home to follow the fortunes of her lover. 

That such was the case was not due to any sentiment on 
Mr Carteret's part, or any spite on that of his wife. If the 
former had happened to want additional space for any of his 
drying or 'curing' processes, he would have invaded his 
daughter's forsaken room without the slightest hesitation, 
and, indeed, without recalling the circumstance of her 
former occupation, of his own accord ; while it was quite 
safe from interference on the part of the latter for another 
and a different reason. 

Mrs Carteret's rooms were perfectly comfortable and 
sufficient, and she never had ' staying company.' She knew 
better. She was quite sufficiently hospitable without in- 
flicting that trouble on herself, and she had no notion of it. 
Indeed, she never had any notion of doing anything which 
she did not thoroughly like, or of putting up with any kind 
of inconvenience for a moment if it were possible to free 
herself from it; and she had generally found it very possible. 
Life had rolled along wonderfully smoothly, on the whole, 
for Mrs Carteret. She possessed one advantage which does 
not always fall to the lot of supremely selfish and heartless 
people — she had an easy temper. 

It is refreshing sometimes to observe how much utterly 
selfish people, whose sole object in life is to secure pleasure 
and to banish pain, suffer by the infliction upon themselves of 
their own temper. But Mrs Carteret was bucklered against 
fate, even on that side. She took excellent and successful 
care that no one else should annoy her, and she never an- 
noyed herself. It would have afforded a philosophic ob- 
server, indeed, some congenial occupation of mind to divine 
from what possible quarter, save that of severe bodily pain 



CffAYLEIGH. 33 

discomfiture could reach Mrs Carteret. She was very well 
off, perfectly healthy, wholly indifferent to every existing 
human being except herself and her cousin, had everything 
her own way as regarded both objects of affection, had got 
rid of her stepdaughter, and had a very comfortable settle- 
ment ' in case anything should happen ' — according to the 
queer formula adopted in speaking of the only absolute 
certainty in human events — to Mr Carteret. 

This seemingly-invulnerable person had no need of Mar- 
garet's room then, and when James Dugdale Said to her, 

' If you don't want that middle room over the drawing- 
room for any particular purpose, I should be glad to have 
the use of it for mounting my drawings, and so on ; the 
light is very good,' she said at once, 

' O yes ; you mean Margaret's room, do you not ? I 
don't want it in the least. I wdl have it put to rights for 
you at once ; it's full of all her trumpery.' 

No third person listening to the two would ever have 
discerned that any matter of feeling, or even embarrassment, 
had any connection with the subject under mention, still less 
that the ' Margaret ' in question had so lately left the home 
of her girlhood on a desperate quest, which the woman who 
spoke of her complacently believed to be desperate. 

' Yes, I mean that room,' said James Dugdale in a care- 
less tone; ' but pray don't have anything in it touched. I 
will see to all that myself; in fact, presuming on your per- 
mission, I have put a lot of my things in there, and the serv- 
ants would play the deuce if they meddled with them. I 
may keep the key, Sibylla, I suppose ? ' 

' Of course,' replied Mrs Carteret ; and from that moment 
she never gave the matter a thought, and James Dugdale had 
the key of Margaret's room, and he did put some sketch- 
books, some sheets of Bristol board, and other adjuncts of his 

3 



34 A RIGHTED WRONG. 

favourite pursuit on a table, and thus formally constituted 
his possession and his pretext. But he seldom unlocked the 
door ; he rarely entered the apartment, even at first, and 
more and more rarely as time stole on, and all his worst fears 
and forebodings about Margaret Hungerford had been 
realized. 

Sometimes, when all the house was quiet, on moonlight 
nights, his pale face and bent figure might have been seen, 
framed in the window, between the branches of the passion- 
flower which he had trained. There he would stand awhile, 
leaning against the woodwork and gazing into the sky, in 
whose vastness, whose distance, whose sameness over all the 
world, there is surely some vague comfort for the yearnings 
of absence, uncertainty, even hopeless separation, or why is 
the relief of it so often, so uniformly sought? 

Sometimes, but not often, he wrote in Margaret's room ; 
one letter which he had written there had exerted a great in- 
fluence upon her fate, how great he little knew. All the girl's 
little possessions were in the room, just as she had left them. 

Tidy housemaids, with accurate ideas of the fitness of 
things, had come to and gone away from Chayleigh since the 
sole daughter of the house had taken her perilous way, ac- 
cording to her headstrong will, and had been disturbed, and 
even mutinous, in their minds concerning the ' middle room.' 
But on the whole they had obeyed orders; and James Dug- 
dale, who had long ceased to be the 'tutor,' and was supposed 
to be Mrs Carteret's stepbrother by the servants of late date 
in the establishment, enjoyed undisturbed possession of the 
trumpery water-colour sketches; the little desk with a sloping 
top, with ' Souvenir ' engraved in flourishes on a mother- 
o'-pearl heart inserted over the lock; the embroidery-frame 
the bead- worked watch-pocket, and the little library which 
occupied two hanging shelves, and chiefly consisted of the 



CHAYLEIGH. 35 

' Beauties ' of the poets, and a collection of ' Friendship's 
Offerings ' and ' Forget-me-nots.' 

James Dugdale's thoughts were busy with Margaret 
Hungerford that sweet autumn day — more busy with her 
than usual, more full of apprehension. The time that had 
elapsed had not deadened the feelings with which he regarded 
the wilful girl, who had scorned his interference, scoffed at 
and resented his advice, but been obliged to avail herself of 
his aid. 

He knew that she had done so, but he knew nothing 
more. And as he roamed about the garden, and the terrace, 
and the pleasaunce, and rambled away to where the forest- 
trees stood stately, idly treading the fallen leaves under his 
listless feet, so lately in their green brightness far above his 
head, he sickened with longing to know more definitely the 
fate of the- absent girl. 

' She hated me then,' he said with a sigh, as he turned 
once more towards the house ; ' and she is just the woman 
to hate me more because she has found out for herself that 
I was right.' 

He little knew how fully, to how far greater an extent 
than he had discovered it, Margaret had learned the worth- 
lessness of Godfrey Hungerford. 

As he crossed the garden, a woman-servant came towards 
him, and asked him for the key of ' the middle room.' The 
request jarred upon him somehow, and he asked rather 
sharply what it was wanted for. 

' We are getting the cleaning done, sir ; master and mis- 
sus is to be home on Saturday.' 

James Dugdale handed the key to the housemaid, and 
entered the drawing-room through the open window. 

' I may as well write to Haldane,' he muttered. ' The 
Canadian mail leaves to-morrow.' 



36 A RIGHTED WEONG. 

"When James Dugdale had written his letter, he went 
out again ; but this time he took his way to the village, in- 
tending to post the packet, and then pursue his way to a 
' bit ' -in the vicinity from which he was making a water- 
colour drawing. 

As he passed the inn which occupied the place of honour 
in the hilly little street, the coach which ran daily from a 
large town on the south coast to London was drawn up be- 
fore the door, and the process of changing horses was being 
accomplished to the lively satisfaction of numerous bystand- 
ers, to whom this event, though of daily occurrence, never 
ceased to be exciting and interesting. 

James Dugdale glanced carelessly at the clustering vil- 
lagers and the idlers about the inn-door, of whom a few 
touched their hats or pulled their hair in his honour ; ob- 
served casually that two female figures were standing in the 
floor-clothed passage, and that one of the ostlers was lifting 
a heavy trunk, of a seafaring exterior, down from the luggage- 
laden top of the coach ; and then passed on, and forgot all 
these ordinary occurrences. He took his way to the scene 
of his intended sketch, and was soon busily engaged with his 
work. 

When the autumnal day was drawing to its close, and 
the growing keenness of the air began to make itself felt, 
quickly too, by his sensitive frame, James Dugdale turned 
his steps homewards, and, taking the lower road, without 
again passing through the village, he skirted the clumps of 
forest-trees, and entered the little demesne by a small gate 
which led into the pleasaunce. 

He had almost reached the grassy terrace, when, glancing 
upwards, as was his frequent custom, — it had been his habit 
in the time gone by, when Margaret's light figure and girl- 
ish face had often met the upturned glance, — he saw that the 



CHAYLEIGH. 37 

window was wide open, and some one was in the room ; saw 
this with quick impatience, which made him step' back a 
little, so as to get a clearer view of the intruder, and to 
mutter, as he did so, 

' Those confounded servants ! "What can they be doing 
there up to this time ? ' 

But, as he murmured the words, James Dugdale started 
violently, and then stood in fixed, motionless, incredulous 
amazement. The window of the middle room was wide open, 
and against the woodwork, framed by the blossoms and foli- 
age of the passion-flower, leaned a slight figure, in a heavy 
black dress. 

The slender hands were clasped together, and showed 
white against "the sombre garb; the pale, clear-cut, severe 
young face, lighted by the last rays of the quickly-setting 
autumn sun, looked out upon the tranquil scene ; but on 
every feature sat the deepest abstraction. The eyes were 
heedless of all near objects, fixed apparently upon the trees 
in the distance ; they took no heed of the figure standing in 
rapt astonishment upon the terrace. 

K"ot until James Dugdale uttered her name with a falter- 
ing, with an almost frightened voice, as one might address a 
spirit, did the face in the window droop, and the eyes search 
for the speaker. But then Margaret Hungerford leaned for- 
ward, and said, quite calmly, 

' Yes, Mr Dugdale, it is I.' 



38 A RIGHTED WEONG. 



CHAPTEE VI. 

HALE- CONFIDENCE S . 

' Tod cannot surely be serious — -you do not really mean 
it ? ' said James Dugdale, in a pleading tone, to Margaret 
Hungerford, as, some hours after he had discovered her 
presence at Chayleigh, they were talking together in the 
drawing-room. 

' I do mean it,' she replied. ' Tou never understood me, 
I think, and you certainly do not understand me now, if you 
think I shall remain here dependent on my father, having 
left his house as I did.' 

•James Dugdale did not speak for some minutes. He 
was pondering upon what she had said. He had never un- 
derstood her ! If not he, who ever had ? Unjust to him she 
had always been, and she was still unjust to him. But that 
did not matter : it was of her he must think, not of himself. 

The first bewildering surprise of Margaret's arrival had 
passed away ; the mingled strangeness and familiarity of see- 
ing her again, changed as she was, in the old home so long 
forsaken, had taken its place, and James Dugdale was look- 
ing at her, and listening to her, like a man in a dream. 

Their meeting had been very calm and emotionless. 
Margaret, in addition to the hardness of manner which had 
grown upon her in her hard life, had felt no pleasure in see- 
ing James Dugdale again. She had not quite forgiven him, 
even yet, and, though she was relieved by finding that the 
first explanations were to be given to him, and not to her 
father or Mrs Carteret, she had made them ungraciously' 
enough, and with just sufficient formal acknowledgment cf 



HALF-CONFIDENCES. 39 

the service which James Dugdale had rendered her, in secur- 
ing to her the friendship and aid of Hayes Meredith, as 
convinced her sensitive hearer that she would rather have 
been indebted to the kindness of any other person. 

On certain points he found her reserve invulnerable ; 
and he was not slow to suspect that she had made up her 
mind exactly as to how much of her past life she would re- 
veal, and how much should remain concealed ; and he did 
not doubt her power of adhering to such a resolution. She 
had briefly alluded to her widowhood, acknowledged the 
kindness she had experienced from Hayes Meredith, said a 
little about the poverty in which he had found her, and had 
then left the subject of herself and all concerning her, as if 
it wearied her, and with a decision of manner which pre- 
vented James Dugdale from questioning her further. 

Her questions regarding her father, her brother, and all 
that had occurred at Chayleigh during her absence, were 
numerous and minute, and James answered them without 
reserve or hesitation. They chiefly related to facts. Mar- 
garet dealt but slightly in sentiment ; but when she asked 
James if her father spoke of her sometimes, there was a little 
change in the tone of her voice, a slight accession of paleness 
which she could not disguise. 

' At first, very seldom ; in fact, hardly ever, Margaret, 
for I see you wish the whole truth, and nothing but the 
truth ; but more frequently of late. Only the day before he 
and Mrs Carteret went to Bath, he — you remember his way 
— was showing me a peculiarly repulsive specimen of some 
singularly hideous insect, and he said, " How pleased Mar- 
gery would have been with that.'" Quite a hallucination, if 
I remember rightly, but still pleasant to hear him say it, 
and showed me that he was thinking of you. Tou see this 
as I do ? ' 



40 A RIGHTED WRONG. 

' yes,' she answered with a smile that was a little hard 
and bitter, ' very pleasant ; indeed, the pleasantest possible 
association of ideas according to papa. And — and Mrs 
Carteret ? ' 

James Dugdale hesitated for a little, and then he said, 

' You remember what Sibylla is, Margaret, and you know 
she never cared much for you, or Haldane — ' 

' Particularly for me,' she interrupted, in a tone whose 
assumed lightness did not impose on James. ' Well, she 
need not fear any intrusion or importunity from me. I have 
come here because I must — I must see my father once more, 
before I have for ever done with the old life and begun with 
the new.' 

' Are you going away again, Margaret ? ' said James, as- 
tonished. ' Going away, after having come home through 
such suffering and difficulty ! "Why is this ? ' 

And then it was that Margaret asked him if he were 
really serious in supposing she had any other intention. 

The truth was, she had very vague notions of what she 
should do with herself. The pride and self-will of her nature, 
which the suffering she had undergone in Australia had 
somewhat tamed, had had time for their reawakening during 
the long voyage; and it was not in the most amiable of 
moods that Margaret reached her former home. 

' Whatever my fault may have been, I have fully expiated 
it ; and I must have peace now, and forgetfulness, if it is to 
be had,' was the form her thoughts took. 

She had not been recognized at the village inn, where she 
had left Rose Moore and her scanty luggage, and the servant 
who had opened the door of her father's house to her was a 
stranger. He might fairly have hesitated to admit a lady 
whom he did not know ; but Margaret's manner of an- 



HALF-CONFIDENCES. 41 

nouncing herself permitted no hesitation within his courage. 
His master and mistress were not at home, the man said, 
but she could see Mr Dugdale when he came in. So she 
walked into the drawing-room, and James was sought for, 
but not found. 

AVhat agony of spirit the young widow underwent, when 
she found herself once more in the scene of the vanished past, 
none but she ever knew. The worst of it had passed away 
when James saw her leaning out of the window, a picture 
framed in the branches of the passion-flower. 

The hours of the evening went rapidly by, though the 
talk of the strangely-assorted companions was constrained 
and bald. Margaret was resolute in her refusal to remain 
at Chayleigh. James Dugdale, she argued, might believe 
that her father would gladly receive her ; but he could not 
know that he would, and she would await that welcome be- 
fore she made her old home even a temporary abode. A 
few sentences sufficed to show James that this determination 
was not to be overcome. 

' At least you are not alone,' he said ; and then she ex- 
plained to him that Hayes Meredith had engaged an Irish 
girl, named Eose Moore, to act as her maid during the 
voyage, and that the girl, having become attached to her, 
was willing to defer her departure to Ireland for a few days, 
until she, Margaret, had made some definite arrangement 
about her own future. 

' I got used to Irish people at Melbourne,' said Margaret, 
' and I like them. I have half a mind to go to Ireland with 
Eose. I suppose people's children want governesses there, 
and people themselves want companions as well as here ; and 
I fancy they are kind and cordial there.' 

' Tou must be very much altered, Margaret,' returned 



42 A RIGHTED WRONG. 

James gravely, ' if you are fit to be either a governess or a 
dame de compagnie. I don't think you had much in you to 
fit you for either function.' 

' I am very much altered,' she said ; ' and what I am fit 
for, or not fit for, neither you nor any one can tell. There 
is only one thing which would come to me that would sur- 
prise or disconcert me now' 

She rose as she spoke, and drew her heavy black cloak, 
which she had only loosened, not laid aside, closely around 
her. 

'And that is — ' said James. 

' Finding myself happy again, or being deceived into 
thinking myself so,' she said quickly and bitterly. 

This was the first thoroughly unrestrained sentence she 
had spoken in all their conversation, the first clear glimpse 
she had given James Dugdale into the depths of her heart 
and experience. 

They went out of the house together, and she walked by 
his side — he did not offer his arm — to the village. The night 
was bright and beautiful, and some of its calm came to the 
heart of Margaret, and reflected itself in her pale steadfast 
face. The road which they took wound past the well-kept 
fences and ornamental palings of a handsome place, much 
larger than Chayleigh, which, in Margaret's time, had been 
in the possession of Sir Richard Davyntry, whose good 
graces, and those of Lady Davyntry, she remembered her 
stepmother to have been particularly anxious to cultivate. 

Mrs Carteret had not succeeded remarkably well in this 
design, and her failure was conspicuously due to her treat- 
ment of Margaret ; for Lady Davyntry was a motherly kind 
of woman, much younger than Mrs Carteret, and whose own 
childless condition was a deep and unaffectedly-avowed grief 
to her. 



HALF-CONJPIDENCES. 43 

As Margaret and her companion passed the gates of 
Davyntry, she remembered these ' childish things,' as they 
seemed to her now, and she paused to look at the stately 
trees, and the fine old Elizabethan house, on whose gilded 
vane the moonlight was shining coldly. 

She asked if Sir Richard and Lady Davyntry were staying 
there just now, adding, ' As I remember them, they were 
not people who, having a country house and place combining 
everything any one can possibly wish for, make a point of 
leaving it just when all is most beautiful.' 

' No,' said James Dugdale, ' they certainly are not ; and 
Sir Richard stuck to it, poor fellow, as long as he could ; but 
he died nearly a year ago, and not at Davyntry either — at 
his brother-in-law's place in Scotland.' 

' Indeed ! ' said Margaret. ' I am sorry for Sir Richard, 
and more sorry still for Lady Davyntry ; she is a widow 
indeed, I am sure. Perhaps she wants a lady companion. 
I might oifer myself: how pleased Mrs Carteret would be ! ' 

' Margaret ! ' said James Dugdale reprovingly. 

He spoke in the tone which had been familiar to him in 
the days when he had been 'the tutor' and Margaret his 
pupil; and she laughed for a moment with something of the 
same saucy laugh with which she had been used to meet a 
remonstrance from him in those old days. James Dugdale's 
heart beat rapidly at the sound ; for the first time, her 
coming, her presence seemed real to him. 

'Well, well, I won't be spiteful,' said Margaret. ' Is Lady 
Davyntry here ? ' 

' Tes ; she has been more than a month at Davyntry. 
Her brother is with her, and a remarkably nice fellow he is. 
I see a good deal of him.' 

'I don't remember him. I don't think I ever saw him,' 
said Margaret absently. ' What is his name ? ' 



44 A RIGHTED WRONG. 

James Dugdale did not note the question, but replied to 
the first part of the sentence. 

' I don't think you can have seen him. He was abroad 
for some years after his sister's marriage ; indeed, he never 
was here in Sir Richard's lifetime — never saw him, I believe, 
until he and Lady Davyntry went to Scotland, on a visit, and 
he died there.' 

' Is he here now ? ' Margaret asked in an indifferent 
manner. 

' Yes,' returned James ; ' I told you so. He comes to 
Chayleigh a good deal. He is nearly as fond of natural 
history as your father, and nearly as fond of drawing as I 
am ; so we are a mutual resource — Chayleigh and Davyntry 
I mean.' 

' And his name ? ' again asked Margaret quietly. 

' Did I not tell you ? Don't you remember it ? Surely 
you must have heard the name ; it is not a common one — 
Etzwilliam Meriton Baldwin.' 

' No, it is not common, and rather nice. I never heard 
it before, that I remember. We have arrived, I see ; and 
there is Rose Moore looking out for me, like an impulsive 
Irish girl as she is, instead of preserving the decorous in- 
difference of the truly British domestic. You will let me. 
know when my father arrives. No, I shall not go to 
Chayleigh again until his return. Good-night, Mr Dug- 
dale.' 

She had disappeared, followed by her attendant, whose 
frank handsome face had candidly expressed an amount of 
disapprobation of James Dugdale's personal appearance to 
which he was, fortunately, perfectly accustomed and philo- 
sophically indifferent. Fate had done its worst for him in 
that respect long before; and he had turned away from the 



HALF-CONFIDENCES. 45 

inn-door, and was walking rapidly down the road again, 
when a cheery voice addressed him. 

' Hallo, Dugdale ! Where are you going at this time of 
night ? and what are you thinking of ? I shouted at you in 
vain, and thought I sh»uld never catch you. Are you going 
home ? Tes ? — then we shall be together as far as Davyntry.' 

The speaker was a young man, perhaps six-and-twenty 
years old, a little over middle height, and, though not re- 
markably handsome, he presented as strong a contrast in 
personal appearance to James Dugdale as could be desired. 
He had a fair complexion, bright-blue eyes, with an expres- 
sion of candour and happiness in them as rare as it was 
attractive, light-brown hair, and a lithe alert figure, full of 
grace and activity. In the few words which he had spoken 
there was something winning and open, a tone of entire 
sincerity and gladness almost boyish ; and it had its charm 
for the older and careworn man, who answered cheerily, as 
he linked his arm with his own : 

' It is always pleasant to meet you, Baldwin ; but to- 
night it's a perfect god-send.' 



CHAPTEB VII. 

THE OLD FAMILIAR FACES. 



The communication which James Dugdale made to Mr 
Carteret on his arrival at Chayleigh was received by that 
gentleman not altogether without agitation, but with more 
pleasure than the ex-tutor had expected. 

Mr Carteret had missed his daughter, in his quiet way, 
and had occasionally experienced something which approach- 
ed remorse during her absence, when he pondered on the 



46 A EIGHTED WRONG. 

probabilities of her fate, and found himself forced to re- 
member how different it might have been had he ' looked 
after ' the motherless girl a little more closely, had he ex- 
tended some more sympathy to her and exerted himself 
to understand her, instead of confining his fatherly fondness 
to occasional petting and careful avoidance of being bored 
by her. 

Mr Carteret was easily reconciled to most things, but he 
had never succeeded in reconciling himself thoroughly to 
Margaret's marriage and her exile, and he heard of her 
return with equal pleasure and relief. These feelings ex- 
panded into positive joy when he learned the delightful fact 
of Godfrey Hungerford's death. 

In the first vague apprehension of James Dugdale's 
news, he had imagined that Margaret had left her husband 
and come home, and even that he hailed with satisfaction. 
But to know that his son-in-law was safely dead was an 
element of unmitigated good fortune in the matter. And so 
strongly and unaffectedly did Mr Carteret feel this, that he 
departed from his usual mild method of speech on the 
occasion, and delivered himself of some very strong lan- 
guage indeed. 

' The infernal scoundrel ! ' he said ; ' he made her miser- 
able, I've no doubt. She'll never tell us anything about it, 
James, if I am not much mistaken in her, or she is not very 
much changed ; and so much the better. I don't want to 
hear anything about him ; I should like to think I should 
never hear his name mentioned again as long as I live ! ' 

' Most likely you never will hear it mentioned, sir,' said 
James. ' If you like, I'll tell Margaret you would rather 
she did not talk about him.' 

' Do, do,' said Mr Carteret eagerly. He hated explana- 
tions, and would never encounter anything he disliked if he 



THE OLD IAHILIAK FACES. 47 

could at all decently avoid doing so. ' The only good or 
pleasant thing that could be heard in connection with the 
fellow, I heard when you told me he was under the sod, and 
there is no use in hearing bad and unpleasant things. Of 
course, the child knows she is welcome home ; and the very 
best thing she can do is to forget the scoundrel ever 
existed.' 

The ignorance of human nature, and the oblivion of his 
wife's peculiarities, which this speech betrayed, were equally 
characteristic of Mr Carteret ; but James Dugdale could 
not smile at them when Margaret was concerned. 

He determined to say nothing to the young widow's 
father about her expressed resolution of leaving Chayleigh 
again, but to abandon that issue to circumstances and the 
success of the mode of argument he intended to pursue with 
Mrs Carteret. He would go and fetch Margaret home 
presently, when he had spoken to his cousin. He thought 
it better her father should not accompany him, and Mr 
Carteret, who had some very choice beetles to unpack and 
prepare, thought so too. 

He delightedly anticipated Margaret's pleasure in ex- 
ploring the extended treasures of his collection, and was 
altogether in such an elated state of mind that he had con- 
signed the whole of Margaret's married life as completely to 
oblivion as he had forgotten the partner of that great dis- 
aster, by the time James Dugdale passed before the windows 
of his study on his way to fulfil his mission of peace and 
reconciliation. 

It never occurred to him to think about how his wife 
was likely to take the news of Margaret's return. Mrs 
Carteret had not given him any trouble herself, or permitted 
other people to give him any trouble, since Margaret and 
Haldane had gone their own way in life, and he was not 



48 A RIGHTED WRONG. 

afraid of her departing now from that excellent rule of 
conduct. 

' Margaret is not a child now, and they are sure to get 
on together,' said the mild and inexperienced elderly gentle- 
man, as he daintily handled some insect remains as reverently 
as if they had been mummies of the Eameses ; ' each can 
have her own way.' He had forgotten Margaret's ' own way,' 
and he knew very little about Mrs Carteret's. 

It was rather odd that his wife did not come to talk 
about the news that James Dugdale had communicated to 
her. He wondered at that a little. He would go and find 
her, and they should talk it over together, presently, when 
he had put this splendid scarabasus all right, — a great crea- 
ture ! — how fortunate he had secured it, just as old Fooster 
was on the scent of it too ! 

And so Mr Carteret went on, and the minutes went on, 
and he had not yet completed his arrangements for the ade- 
quate display of the scarabseus, when two figures, one in 
heavy black robes, passed quickly between hitn and the 
light. A window-sash was thrown up from the outside, and 
Margaret Hungerford's arms were round her father's neck. 

Under the roof of Chayleigh, on that bright autumn night, 
there was but one tranquil sleeper. That one was Mr Car- 
teret. He was thoroughly happy. Margaret had come 
home, Godfrey Hungerford was dead, and she had never 
mentioned his name. 

He felt some tepid gratitude towards Hayes Meredith : 
of course he should at once repay him the sums advanced to 
Margaret, and it would be a good opportunity of extending 

his correspondence and his scientific investigations the 

Australian fauna had much to disclose. 

He had experienced a slight shock at observing the 
change in Margaret's appearance ; but that had passed away 



THE OLD FAMILIAR FACES. 49 

and when Mr Carteret fell asleep that night he acknowledged 
that everything was for the best in the long-run. 

Mrs Carteret had behaved very well. She had met Mar- 
garet kindly, with as much composure as if she had been 
away from home "on a week's visit ; had inquired whether 
' her maid ' would remain at Chayleigh ; had added that ' her 
things ' should be placed in her ' former ' room ; and had 
evinced no further consciousness of the tremendous change 
which had befallen her stepdaughter than was implied in the 
remark that ' widow's caps were not made so heavy now,' 
and that Margaret's ' crape skirt needed renewal.' 

The evening had passed away quietly. To two of the 
four individuals who composed the little party it had seemed 
like a dream from which they expected soon to awaken. 
Those two were Margaret Hungerford and James Dugdale. 

One slight interruption had occurred. A note had been 
handed to Mrs Carteret from Lady Davyntry. She had 
heard of the return of her former ' pet ' to Chayleigh — the 
expression was as characteristic of Lady Davyntry as it was 
unsuitably applied to Margaret, who was an unpromising 
subject for ' petting ' — and hoped to see her soon. Mr 
Meriton Baldwin would forego the pleasure of calling at 
Chayleigh that evening, as he could not think of intruding so 
soon after the arrival of Mrs Hungerford. 

Mrs Carteret threw down the letter with rather an ill- 
tempered jerk, and her face bore an expression which Mar- 
garet remembered with painful distinctness, as she said, 

' Very absurd, I think. I don't suppose that Margaret 
would object to our seeing our friends because she is here.' 

The speech was not framed as a question ; but Margaret 
answered it, lifting up her head and her fair throat as she 
spoke, after a fashion which one observer, at least, thought 
infinitely beautiful. 



50 A RIGHTED WRONG. 

' Certainly not, Mrs Carteret. Pray do not allow me to 
interfere with any of your usual proceedings.' 

And then she went on talking to her father about the 
habits of the kangaroo. 

The thoughts which held Mrs Carteret's eyes waking 
that night were anything but agreeable. She did not ex- 
actly know how she stood with regard to her stepdaughter. 
If she determined on making the house too unpleasant for 
her to bear it, she might find herself in collision with her 
husband and her cousin at once, unless she could contrive 
that the unpleasantness should be of a kind which Margaret's 
pride — which she detected to be little, if at all, subdued by 
the experiences of her married life — -would induce her tc 
hide from the observation of both. 

Margaret should not live at Chayleigh if Mrs Carteret 
could prevent it ; but whatever means she used to carry her 
purpose into effect must be such as James Dugdale could 
not discover or thwart. The thing would be difficult to do ; 
but Mrs Carteret had well-grounded confidence in her own 
power of carrying a point, and this was one which must be 
held over for the present. It was agreeable to be able to 
decide that, at all events, Margaret was no beauty, that she 
was decidedly much less handsome than she had been as 
what Mrs Carteret called ' a raw girl.' 

And this was true, to the perception of a superficial ob- 
server. Margaret looked very far from handsome as she sat 
in a corner of the bow-window of the drawing-room, her 
small thin hands folded and motionless, her head, with its 
hideous covering, bent down ; her pale face, sharpened by 
the angle at which the light struck it, and her whole figure, 
in its deep black dress, unrelieved by the slightest ornament 
or grace of form, pervaded by an expression of weariness 
and defeat. She might have been a woman of thirty years 



THE OLD FAMILIAR PACES. 51 

old, and who had never been handsome, to the perception of 
any stranger who had then and thus seen her. 

But, three hours later in the night, when Margaret 
Ilungerford was alone in the room which had been the scene 
of her girlish dreams and hopes, of the fond and beautiful 
delusion so terribly dissipated — in the room where her dead 
mother had watched her in her sleep, where she had read 
and yielded to the lover's prayer which lured her from her 
hoine — when she was quite alone, and was permitting the 
waves of memory to rush over her soul ; — no one would have 
said, who could then have seen her, that Margaret was not 
handsome. Her face was one capable of intensity of expres- 
sion in every mood of feeling, and as mobile as it was power- 
ful. The wakeful hours of that night passed over her while 
another crisis in her life was lived through — another crisis 
somewhat resembling, and yet differing from, that which had 
marked the first hours of her voyage. 

She had sent Rose Moore away as soon as she could, but 
not before the girl had imparted to her her conviction that 
English people, always excepting Margaret, were ' quare.' 
She could not understand the tranquillity of the widowed 
daughter's reception at Chayleigh. The reception awaiting 
her in the ' ould country ' would be of a very different kind, 
' plase God,' she added internally ; and the extent and im- 
portance of the business of eating and drinking among the 
servants had gone nigh to exasperate her. 

Hose was devoted to Margaret, but she thought the 
sooner she and her mistress turned their back on a place 
where servants sat down to four regular meals a day, and did 
not as much as know the meaning of the ' Mass,' the better. 

• She '11 never do for these people,' the girl thought, as 
she waited for Margaret in her room ; she's restless with 
sorrow, and it's not a nice nate place, like this, with the 



52 A RIGHTED WEONG. 

back parlour full of spiders laid out in state, as if they were 
wakin' them, and little boxes full of bones— nor yet the 
drawin'-room, all done out with bades, and a mother, byway 
of, sittin' in it that 'ud think more of one of her tay-cups 
bein' chipped than of the young crayture's heart bein' broken 
— that'll ever bring comfort or consolation to the likes of her.' 

The thoughts which had put themselves into such simple 
words in the Irish girl's mind had considerable affinity with 
Margaret's own, but in her they took more tumultuous form. 
The strong purpose, half remorse, half vain-longing, which 
had brought her home, was fulfilled. She had seen the place 
she had left, and thoroughly realized that her former self 
had been left with it. 

The few hours which had passed had made her compre- 
hend that her life, her nature, were things apart from Chay- 
leigh ; she could not, if she would, take up the story of her 
girlhood where she had closed the book. Between her and 
every former association, the dark and miserable years of her 
married life — unreal as they seemed now — almost as unreal 
as the illusion under which she had entered upon them — had 
placed an impassable gulf. 

"Wrapped in a dressing-gown, and with her dark hair 
loose upon her shoulders, Margaret paced her room from 
end to end, and strove with her thoughts. She was a puzzle 
to herself. "What discord there was between her — a woman 
who had suffered such things, seen such sights, heard such 
words as she had seen, and heard, and suffered — and the 
calm, well-regulated, comfortable household here ! If she 
had ever contemplated remaining an inmate of her father's 
house, this one night's commune with herself would have 
forced her to recognize the impossibility of her doing so. 
The stain and stamp of her wanderings were upon her • she 
could not find rest here, or yet. 



THE OLD FAMILIAR PACES. bo 

Her father's dreamy ways ; the selfishness, heartlessness, 
empty-headedness of Mrs Carteret ; the distaste she felt for 
James Dugdale's presence, though she persuaded herself she 
was striving to be grateful ; — all these things, separately and 
collectively, she felt, but they did not present themselves to 
her as the true sources of her present uncontrollable feelings : 
she knew how utterly she was changed now only when she 
knew — for it was knowledge, not apprehension — that the 
home to which she had found her way of access so much 
easier than she had thought for, could never be a resting- 
place for her. 

Was there any resting-place anywhere ? Had she still to 
learn that life's lessons are not exhausted by one or two 
great shocks of experience, but are daily tasks until the day, 
' never so weary or long,' has been ' rung to evensong ' ? She 
was a puzzle to herself in another respect. No grief for the 
dead husband, the lover for whom she had left the home 
which could not be restored, had come back to her. No 
gentle tender chord had been touched in her heart, to give 
forth his name in mournful music. 

In this, the truth, the intellectual strength of her nature, 
unknown to her, revealed themselves. No sentimentality 
veiled the truth from Margaret. She had said to herself 
that it was well for her her husband was dead, no matter 
what should come after, and she never unsaid it, — not even 
in the hours of emotional recollection and mental strife 
which formed her first night under her father's roof. 

Standing by the window at which James Dugdale had 
first caught sight of her the day before, Margaret clasped 
her hands over her head and looked out drearily. The 
moon was high, the light was cold and ghastly. She 
thought how she had seen the same chill gleam upon the 
shimmering sea, and upon the grassy wastes of the distant 



54 A RIGHTED WRONG. 

land she had left ; and the fancy came to her that it was 
to he always moonlight with her for evermore. 

' No more sunshine; no more of the glow, and the glitter, 
and the warmth — that is done with for me. There's no such 
thing as happiness, and I must only try to find, instead, 
hard work.' 

There was another wakeful head at Chayleigh that night. 
James Dugdale was but too well accustomed to sleepless 
nights, companioned by the searching, mysterious pain 
which so often attends upon deformity — pain, as if unseen 
fingers questioned the distorted limbs and lingered among 
the disturbed nerves ; but it was not that which kept him 
waking now. 

It was that he, too, was face to face with his fate, 
questioning it of its past deeds and its intentions for the 
future — a little bitterly questioning it, perhaps, and yet 
with more resignation than rancour after all, considering 
what the mind of the man was, and what a prison-house it 
tenanted. Among the innumerable crowd of thoughts 
which pursued and pressed upon each other, there was one 
all the more distinct that he felt and strove against its un- 
worthiness. 

' I am so thankful she is at home — so glad for her sake. 
Nothing could be so well for her, since the past is irrevo- 
cable ; but nothing could be so bad, at least nothing could 
be worse, for me. No, nothing, nothing.' 

And James Dugdale, happily blind to the further re- 
sources of his destiny, felt something like a dreary sense of 
peace arising within him as he assured himself over and 
over again of the finality to which it had attained. 



MKS CARTERET IS CONGRATULATED. 55 

CHAPTEE VIII. 

MRS CARTERET IS CONGRATULATED. 

' I am positively dying to see her — I am indeed ; you 
have no notion what a darling she is. I am sure you would 
be delighted with her, Eitzwilliam ! ' 

These gushing sentiments were uttered by Lady Davyn- 
try, and addressed to her brother, Mr Eitzwilliam Meriton 
Baldwin, while they were at breakfast together, on the 
morning after Lady Davyntry' s note had been received at 
Chayleigh. 

Lady Davyntry was given to gushing. She was a harm- 
less, emotional kind of woman, who had led a perfectly dis- 
creet and comfortable life, and had never known a sorrow 
until the death of her husband. 

Lady Davyntry was a very pretty woman — as pretty at 
her present age, thirty-five, as she had been at any time 
since she had turned the corner of extreme youth. Her 
mild, lambent blue eyes were as bright as they had ever 
been, and her fair, rather thick skin had lost neither its 
purity nor its polish. 

She had been rich, well cared for, and happy all her 
life ; she had never had any occasion to exert herself ; the 
' sorrows of others ' had cast but light and fleeting ' shadows 
over ' her ; and her sentimentalism, and the romance which 
had not been much developed in the course of her pros- 
perous uneventful life were quite ready for any demands 
that might be made upon them by an event of so much 
local interest as the return of Mr Carteret's daughter, 
whose marriage was generally understood to have been very 
unfortunate. 



56 A EIGHTED WRONG. 

She was interested in the occurrence for more than the 
sufficient reason that she had liked and pitied Margaret in 
her neglected girlhood. Perhaps the strongest sentiment 
of dislike which had ever been called forth in the amiable 
nature of Lady Davyntry had been excited by, and towards, 
Mrs Carteret. 

The two women were entirely antagonistic to each 
other ; and Lady Davyntry felt a thrill of gratification on 
hearing of Margaret's return, in which a conviction that 
that event had taken place without Mrs Carteret's sanction, 
and would not be to her taste, had a decided share. 

She had favoured her brother — to whom she was very 
much attached, and who was so much younger than she 
that he did not inspire her with any of the salutary reserve 
which induces sisters to disguise their favourite weaknesses 
from brothers — with a full and free statement of her feel- 
ings on this point, and he had not strongly combated her 
antipathy to Mrs Carteret. The truth was, he shared it. 

Mr Baldwin had risen from the breakfast-table, and 
was standing, newspaper in hand, by a large window which 
commanded an extensive view, including the precise angle 
of the little demesne of Chayleigh in which the rear of the 
house and the window of Margaret's room, with its frame 
of passion-flowers, could be seen — not distinctly, but clearly 
enough to induce the eyes of any one gazing forth upon 
the scene to rest upon it mechanically. 

His sister rose also, as she repeated her assurance that 
Margaret was a ' darling,' and joined him. 

' Look,' she said ; ' you have sharp eyes, I know. There 
is some one leaning out of the centre window. I see a 
figure ; don't you ? ' 

' Yes,' said Mr Baldwin ; ' I see a figure, all in black, 

there's a flutter of something white. Who is it ? ' 



MRS CARTERET IS CONGRATULATED. 57 

' I'm sure it's Margaret,' said Lady Davyntry, ' and the 
white thing must be the strings of her widow's cap, poor 
child. How horrid it will be to see her sweet, pretty little 
face in it ! Ah, dear ! to think that she and I should meet 
under such similar circumstances ! ' and Lady Davyntry 
sighed, and a tear made its appearance in each of her calm 
blue eyes. 

' Similar circumstances ! ' repeated her brother, in some 
surprise. ' Ah, yes ! you are both widows, to be sure ; but 
the similarity stops there ; if what Dugdale said, or rather 
implied, be true, — as of course it is, — you and Mrs Hunger- 
ford wear your rue with a difference.' 

' "We do, indeed,' said Lady Davyntry. ' Give me that 
field-glass, Eitz. I must make out whether that really is 
Margaret.' And then she added, as she adjusted the glass 
to her sight, ' And I pity her for that too. I cannot fancy 
any lot more pitiable than being forbidden by one's reason to 
feel grief. Yes,' she went on, after a minute, ' it is Mar- 
garet. I can see her figure quite plainly now. Look, look, 
Fitz ! ' and she held out the glass to him. But Mr Baldwin 
did not take it from her hand ; he smiled, and said : 

' No, no, Nelly, I could not take the liberty of peeping 
surreptitiously at Mrs Hungerford. You forget you are 
renewing your acquaintance with her ; mine has to be 
made.' 

' That's just like your punctilio,' said his sister. ' I de- 
clare I feel the strongest impulse to nod to her, this glass 
brings her so near ; and you are a goose for your pains. 
However, when you do see her, I prophesy you will agree 
with me that she is a darling, a delightful girl.' 

' Well, but,' said Mr Baldwin, who was amused by his 
sister's enthusiasm, 'you forget how long it is since you 
have seen this paragon, and that she is not a girl at all, but 



58 A KIGHTED WEONG. 

an unhappy and ill-treated wife, who has lately had the good 
fortune to become a widow.' 

' That's true,' said Lady Davyntry ; ' but I'll not believe 
that any change could interfere with Margaret's being a 
darling. At all events, I am going to see for myself this 
very day.' 

' So soon ? ' asked Mr Baldwin, in a surprised tone. 

' So soon ! why not ? Tou don't suppose Margaret has 
any tender confidences with Mrs Carteret which must not 
be broken in upon, and, as for her father, I am sure he is as 
much accustomed to her being there, since yesterday, as if 
she were one of those horrid specimens en permanence? 

Mr Baldwin laughed. ' I don't suppose the meeting has 
been very demonstrative,' he said, ' considering the parties to 
it whom I do know, and Dugdale's account of the party whom 
I do not. According to the little he said, Mrs Hungerford's 
firmness and reserve are wonderful — more wonderful than 
pleasing, I should consider them.' 

' Never mind Mr Dugdale, Fitz,' replied his sister. ' He 
never liked Margaret either, I believe : I know she quarrelled 
with him at the time of her love-affair. It is very likely he 
does not like her coming home ; she may make things un- 
pleasant for him now, you know, which she could not when 
quite a girl. Don't you mind him. Take my word for it, 
the young widow is a darling.' 

' Take care, Nelly ; that is rather a dangerous thing to 
insist upon so strongly, except that you know I have a pre- 
judice against widows — always excepting you? he added, as 
she raised a warning finger. 

' Nonsense,' said Lady Davyntry ; and then she left the 
room, and her brother resumed his newspaper ; but, as he 
folded it and prepared to read the leading articles leisurely 
he thought, ' I wonder if she is really nice. Certainly Dug- 



MRS CARTERET IS CONGRATULATED. 59 

dale did not convey to me any impression that he did not 
like her, or that her coming was contrary to his con- 
venience, — rather the opposite, I think. This must be a 
fancy of Nelly's.' 

' Am I right ? Did I say too much of Margaret, you 
incredulous Fitz ? ' asked Lady Davyntry of her brother, 
when the gates of Chayleigh had closed upon them at the 
termination of an unusually protracted visit, during which 
Mrs Carteret had endured the mortification of seeing Lady 
Davyntry in a character of affectionate neighbourliness, 
which had never been evoked by all her own strenuous and 
unrelaxed efforts. 

' Did you ever see a nicer creature ? ' persisted the im- 
pulsive Nelly, ' and though of course she's changed, I assure 
you T never thought her so handsome when she was quite a 
girl ; and her quiet manner — so dignified and lady-like — not 
cold, though : you didn't think it cold, did you, Fitz ? ' 

' Not cold to you, certainly,' replied Mr Baldwin, who 
was glad to escape, by answering this one, from the more 
direct question his sister had put to him at first. 

' No, no,' she went on ; ' quite cordial ; and I told 
her how I looked at her with the glass this morning, and 
how you were quite too proper and precise to follow my 
example ; and she blushed quite red for a moment — -her 
pale face looked so pretty — and just glanced at you for an 
instant : it was when Mr Carteret was bothering you about 
the articulations of something— and I'm sure she thought 
you very nice and gentlemanly, and ' 

' What I thought of Mrs Hungerford is more to your 
present purpose, Nelly,' said her brother, in an embarrassed 
voice. ' I quite agree with you in thinking her very charm- 
ing, but she looks as if she had gone through a great deal.' 

' Tes ; doesn't she, poor dear ? ' said Lady Davyntry, 



60 A RIGHTED WRONG. 

who simply did not possess the power to comprehend even 
the outlines of Margaret's life ; ' but now that she is at 
home it will be all right ; I shall have her with me as 
much as possible, and she will soon forget all her troubles.' 

Mr Baldwin did not reply. There was something in 
Mrs Hungerford's face which forbade him to believe that 
Davyntry and its mistress would prove a panacea for what- 
ever was the source of that expression. It was not grief, 
as grief is felt for the dead who have been worthily loved 
and are fitly mourned. 

It was an utter forlornness, combined with suppressed 
energy. It was the expression of one who had been utterly 
deceived and disappointed, and was now crushed by the 
sense of bankruptcy and defeat in life. The quiet manner 
which had been so satisfactory to the shallow perceptions of 
Lady Davyntry did not impress her brother in the same way. 

' That is a woman,' he thought, ' who has gone peril- 
ously near to the confines of despair.' 

"When he had seen Lady Davyntry into the house, Mr 
Baldwin turned away from the door, and went a long 
ramble through the fields. His wanderings did not take him 
out of Chayleigh ; and once he stood still, looking towards 
the window where Margaret's figure had been dimly seen 
by him that morning, and thought, 

' What does this woman mean to me ? Not a mere 
passing interest in my life ! What does this woman mean ? ' 

' I suppose you don't see much change in Lady Davyn- 
try ? ' Mrs Carteret said to Margaret, after the visitors 
had departed. ' She is as nice-looking, in a common way, 
and as full of herself as usual.' 

' Lady Davyntry was always very kind to me,' replied 
Margaret gravely. ' In that she is certainly unchanged.' 

' Oh yes, she's kind enough, in her empty way,' said 



MRS CARTERET IS CONGRATULATED. 61 

Mrs Carteret ; ' but for my part I don't care about those 
violent intimacies. I never would be led into them — they 
are quite in her way. If I would have responded, there 
would have been perpetual running back and forward be- 
tween Davyntry and Chayleigh ; but that sort of thing 
does not suit me — I consider it vulgar and insincere.' 

Margaret did not exactly know, but she suspected, quite 
correctly, that her stepmother was endeavouring to disguise 
a considerable amount of pique under this depreciation of 
undue intimacy. She therefore made no reply, and Mrs 
Carteret continued : 

' I dare say she will be taking you up violently, for a 
while, until she tires of you. The fuss she makes with her 
brother is quite absurd. He is a nice-looking young man, 
and nothing more. Don't you think so, Margaret ? ' 

' He is nice-looking, certainly,' said Margaret ; ' but I 
have seen too little of him to pronounce any further.' 

' He has the great attraction of being very rich,' said 
Mrs Carteret, in a sharp tone ; Margaret's cautious and 
reasonable reply irritated her. ' If he dies without heirs, 
his sister will have all the Scotch property ; it is worth 
fifteen thousand a-year, and entailed on heirs general. It 
is a wonder some manoeuvring mother has not made a prize 
of him long ago. He's rather a soft party, I should say.' 

' Should you ? ' said Margaret. ' Mr Baldwin looks 
firm as well as gentle, I think — not the sort of man to be 
married by anybody without his own unqualified con- 
sent.' 

' Of course he's a great catch,' said Mrs Carteret, ' and 
I understand he is terribly afraid of ladies. He thinks 
every woman who looks at him is in love with himself or 
his acres.' 

' Indeed,' said Margaret — and there was a tone of polite 



62 A EIGHTED WRONG. 

incredulity in her voice — ■'! should not have taken Mr 
Baldwin to be a vulgar-minded man.' 

' I dare say not,' returned Mrs Carteret ; ' he is rather 
prepossessing than otherwise to strangers ; but then, you 
know, Margaret, your judgment of men has been rather 
rash than infallible hitherto. Dear me ! I had no notion 
it was so late — time to dress for dinner ! ' 

Mrs Carteret rose, laid aside her everlasting fancy- 
work, and left the room. Margaret rose also, but lingered 
for a few moments. As she stood with her hands pressed 
upon her temples, and her pale face drawn into a look of 
pain, she thought : 

' I wonder, if James Dugdale had heard that speech, 
would he think I could possibly stay here.' 



CHAPTER IX. 

WHAT THE WOMAN MEANT. 



A month had elapsed since Margaret Hungerford's 
return to her father's house, and had brought with it 
certain changes in the situation of things at Chayleigh, 
which, though they could not have been understood by 
outsiders, were very keenly appreciated by the actors in 
the small domestic drama there. 

It had brought to Margaret more calm and peace. It 
had not changed her intention of leaving Chayleigh, of seek- 
ing some independent means of providing for herself; but 
it had decreased her anxiety to put this intention into im- 
mediate, or even into very early, execution. The main 
element in this alteration was her perception of her father's 
pleasure in her society. 



WHAT THE WOMAN MEANT. 63 

' It is not much to bear for Ids sake,' she said to herself, 
' to put up with Mrs Carteret. I have had worse things 
than that to endure without the power or the prospect of 
escaping from them either, and I will stay for six months 
with papa. James Dugdale thinks it the right thing, and, 
if Mrs Carteret is convinced that it is to be only for six 
months, she will see that her best policy, in pursuit of her 
favourite plan of making things pleasant for papa, in order 
to hare her own way thoroughly in things she really cares 
about, is by behaving properly to me. I will take care she 
shall labour under no delusive fears about my having come 
to take up my abode here ; and then I am much out of my 
calculations, and egregiously mistaken in my amiahle step- 
mother, if she does not change her tactics altogether.' 

The result justified Margaret's calculations. She took 
an early opportunity of informing Mrs Carteret that she did 
not contemplate a long stay at Chayleigh. 

The intimation was received by her stepmother with 
much propriety of manner, but without the slightest warmth. 
She designed to let Margaret perceive that while she (Mrs 
Carteret) was too ladylike, too perfectly trained and finished 
in the polished proprieties of life, to fail in the fulfilment of 
the exact laws of hospitality, it had never occurred to her to 
consider Margaret in any other light than that of a guest ; 
and that she therefore regarded the communication as merely 
relating to the duration of her visit. 

Margaret clearly perceived her meaning, but she did not 
resent it, nor did it grieve her. The peace of a settled 
resolution had come to her. Mrs Carteret condescended to 
express her approbation of Margaret's determination, and 
her readiness to assist her in carrying it into effect. 

' Xothing is more admirable in young people than an 
independent spirit,' said the approving lady; 'and, notwith- 



.64 A RIGHTED WRONG. 

standing your unfortunate marriage, Margaret, I consider 
you as a young person still. Tou are quite right in con- 
sidering it unjust that your father should be expected to 
provide for you twice over — first, in handing over the money 
you were not really entitled to, to that unpleasant person, 
Mr Hungerford, and a second time, by having you to live 
here.' 

' My father is not expected, either by me or by any one 
that I know of, to do anything of the kind,' interrupted 
Margaret, with a slight quivering of the lips and a transient 
accession of colour to the pale cheeks. 

' That is just what I am saying, my dear. I highly com- 
mend your very proper view. It would be quite my own. 
Indeed, I am sure, were I in your position, I could not en- 
dure dependence, even if my father were a much richer man 
than yours is. I cannot understand any one not doing any- 
thing to secure independence.' 

Margaret smiled, rather a hard kind of smile, as she 
thought there was one thing she certainly would not do to 
attain independence, and that one thing was precisely what 
Miss Martley had done in becoming Mrs Carteret. 

The elder lady continued to talk for some time longer in 
the same strain, and at length she asked Margaret how she 
intended to procure occupation. 

' I have not thought about that part of it yet,' she re- 
plied. 

Then Mrs Carteret allowed the truth to slip out ; then 
she betrayed her real consciousness of the meanness she was 
perpetrating. She shifted her eyes uneasily away from 
Margaret's face, as she said, 

' I should not mention the matter to any one about here 
if I were you, Margaret. People talk so oddly, and your 
father might not like it. I always think, when anything of 



WHAT THE WOMAN MEANT. 65 

the kind is to be done, it had better be away from home, and 
among a different connection.' 

Margaret answered her with hardly-disguised contempt : 

' Your warning comes rather late. I have already told 
Lady Davyntry of my intention, which she approves as much 
as you do. She has been good enough to promise me her 
friendship and interest in settling matters to my satisfaction. 
As for papa, he will not mind s how I do it, when I can suc- 
ceed in reconciling him to my doing it at all.' 

Mrs Carteret felt strongly tempted to get into a violent 
rage, and relieve her vexation, which was intense, by saying 
anything and everything which anger might suggest to her, 
to Margaret. 

That Lady Davyntry, who had taken no notice of the 
advances she had made towards an intimacy which would 
have been a social triumph to Mrs Carteret — Lady Davyntry 
who, since Margaret's return, had gone so near ignoring her 
stepmother's existence as was consistent with the observance 
of the commonest civility — that she should be admitted be- 
hind the scenes, that Margaret should instruct her in the 
■dessous des cartes, was gall and wormwood to her. She had 
never been very far off hating Margaret hitherto ; her quiet 
stealthy dislike to the girl now deepened into the darker 
feeling ; aud though she merely replied, ' Oh, then, in that 
case, it cannot be helped,' Margaret knew that that minute 
marked an era in Mrs Carteret's feelings towards her. 

' Xever mind,' she said to herself, as though she had 
been encouraging another person ; ' never mind, it is only 
for six months. She will always be civil to me, and it can't 
last.' 

She was right ; M rs Carteret always was civil to her. 
She was a woman in whom cunning and caution were at 
least aa strong as temper, and she took counsel of both in 



66 A RIGHTED WKONG. 

this instance. She was by no means free from an uneasy- 
suspicion that, if Margaret had formed a contrary determin- 
ation, her influence with her father would have outweighed 
that which she herself could have exerted. 

It behoved her, therefore, to be thankful that the occa- 
sion for testing that unpleasantly-important point had not 
arisen, and to confine her tactics to such consistently-cere- 
monious treatment of Margaret as should keep her position 
as only a guest constantly before her eyes, and maintain her 
resolution by the aid of her pride ; while all should be so 
contrived as to avoid attracting the attention of her ab- 
sent-minded husband. 

Mrs Carteret conquered her temper, therefore — an 
operation in which she found the counting of the stitches of 
her everlasting fancy-work afforded her a good deal of assist- 
ance — and, after a short pause, took up a collateral branch 
of the same subject. 

Margaret had dismissed Rose Moore, and the girl had 
gone on her journey with a weight at her heart which she 
would have hardly believed possible, seeing that she was 
going home. But she had come to love Margaret very much, 
and she was very imperfectly consoled for parting with her 
by the distant hope which the young widow held out of a 
future meeting. 

' You will be married, and away in a house of your own, 
my dear girl, very soon, and you will not care much about 
anything else then ; but I promise you, if ever I want you 
very much, Hose, I will send for you. I don't think I ever 
can want you, in all my life, as much as I wanted you when 
you came to me ; and of course you neA r er can want me ; 
your life is laid out for you too securely for that.' 

' None of us can tell that? said Eose Moore ; ' who 
knows ? ' 



WHAT THE WOMAN MEANT. 67 

' Well, of course no one knows,' said Margaret ; ' but it 
looks like it. However, we shall never forget one another, 
Hose, and if either can help the other, the one who can will.' 
And with this understanding they parted. 

Mrs Carteret had never taken any notice of Eose Moore, 
who, in her turn, had held the lady of the house in slight 
reverence. Mrs Carteret had a constitutional aversion to 
the Irish. She considered them half-civilized beings, with 
a natural turn for murder, a natural unfitness for domestic 
service, and an objectionable predilection for attending the 
ceremonial observances of their religion. 

As an Irishwoman, then, Eose Moore was antipathetic 
to her ; and as a devoted though humble friend of her step- 
daughter's, she was something more. The Irish girl's 
bright-hearted love and sympathy for the young widow was 
positively repulsive to Mrs Carteret, because there was a re- 
proach in it. 

But when Eose was actually gone, Mrs Carteret found 
herself in a difficulty. She disliked the idea of a successor 
to Eose being found, because her narrow, grasping nature 
was of the small tyrant order, and she could not endure that 
in her house there should be any one who did not owe allegi- 
ance to Tier. 

Another reason was to be found in Mrs Carteret's par- 
simony. She was as avaricious as she was despotic, and both 
these passions were stirred within her when she asked Mar- 
garet, in the most distant and uninterested tone which even 
she could assume, whether she had yet made any arrange- 
ments about replacing Eose Moore. ' Moore,' she called 
her, after the English fashion, which had been a deadly 
offence to Eose. 

' Calling you as if you were either a man or a dog,' the* 
indignant damsel had said. 



68 A SIGHTED WRONG. 

' It's the English fashion, Rose,' Margaret had pleaded in 
mitigation. 

' Then it's like more of their fashions, and they ought to 
be ashamed of it, and would if they were Christians. How- 
ever, I suppose English servants put up with that, or 
anythin' else, for their four meals a-day, and snacks into 
the bargain, and their beer, and the liberty their clargy gives 
them to backbite their masters and mistresses.' 

Margaret tried to explain that neither in this nor in any 
other particular were the objects of Rose's indignant scorn 
in the habit of applying to their ' clargy ; ' but this was an 
enormity which she found the girl's mind was quite in- 
capable of receiving as a truth. 

Mrs Hungerford replied to Mrs Carteret's question, 
that she had no intention of providing a successor for Rose 
Moore. 

' I should have thought it quite unnecessary to tell you 
so,' she said, rather angrily. ' Tou can hardly suppose I am 
in a position to keep a maid. Even if I were for the present, 
to accustom myself to any luxury which I must lose at the 
end of six months would be unpardonable folly and weakness.' 

' You are quite right, my dear,' said Mrs Carteret, with 
a cordial tone in her voice, and a side-glance in her eye of 
intense dislike of the speaker. ' I admire your correct and 
self-denying principle, but I am not sure that your father 
will like it. While you stay with us, I am sure he would 
not wish you to be without a maid.' 

Margaret did not take much trouble to conceal the con- 
tempt which animated the smile that she permitted to pass 
slowly over her face as she replied : 

' Pray do not trouble yourself about that, Mrs Carteret. 
If papa thinks about it at all, which is very unlikely he 
will know how little personal attendance I have been 



WHAT THE WOMAN MEANT. G9 

accustomed to. But you and I know the fact of there being 
a servant more or less in the house will never present itself 
to his notice. Pray make your mind easy on that point.' 

' But there's — ' said Mrs Carteret hesitatingly — ' there's 
James, you know ; he is sure to know that Moore has left 
you, and to find out whether you have got any one to re- 
place her.' 

' Make your mind easy about that, too, Mrs Carteret,' 
said Margaret ; and the confidence in her tone was par- 
ticularly displeasing. 'I will take care that Mr Dugdale 
understands my wishes in this matter.' 

So Mrs Carteret carried three points. She avoided 
having a servant in the house who should not be her servant ; 
she escaped an additional expense ; and she was exempted, 
by Margaret's express disclaimer, from offering her the 
services of her own maid — an offer which, had she found 
herself obliged to make it, Mrs Collins would probably have 
declined to carry into execution. There was one person in 
the world of whom Mrs Carteret was afraid, and that 
individual was Mrs Collins. 

"When the conversation between Margaret and Mrs 
Carteret had come to an end, to their mutual relief, Mar- 
garet went to her father. As she approached the study, she 
heard voices, and knew she should not find him alone. 

' I suppose it is James,' she thought, and entered the 
room. But it was not James ; it was Mr Baldwin, who held 
a large old-looking volume in his hand, and was discussing 
with Mr Carteret a passage concerning the structure of 
Crustacea. He closed the book, and replaced it on the table 
with great alacrity, as Margaret came in and spoke to him. 
Then she turned to her father. ' I was going to talk to you 
for a little while, papa ; but as Mr Baldwin is here — ' 

' Xever mind that, Margery,' said her father ; ' Mr 



70 A RIGHTED WRONG. 

Baldwin was just going to the drawing-room to see Sibylla 
and you. He has a message for you from Lady Davyntry ' 

Mr Baldwin confirmed Mr Carteret's statement, and took 
from his waistcoat-pocket a tiny note, folded three-corner- 
wise. This was before the invention of square envelopes and 
dazzling monograms ; and female friendship, confidences, 
and general gushingness usually expressed themselves in the 
three-cornered form. 

Margaret took the note, and, passing before the ' speci- 
men'-laden table, went to the window and seated herself on 
the low, wide, uncushioned ledge. She held the twisted 
paper in her hand, and looked idly out of the window, before 
she broke the seal, unconscious that Mr Baldwin was looking 
at her with an eager interest which rendered him singularly 
inattentive to the arguments addressed to him by Mr Car- 
teret in pursuance of the discussion which Margaret's 
entrance had interrupted. 

The girlish gracefulness of her attitude contrasted 
strangely with her sombre heavy dress ; the soft youthful- 
ness of her colourless face made the harsh lines of the close 
crimped cap an odious anachronism. 

' My darling Margaret,' — this was the note, — ' I have 
such a cold, I cannot get to you. Do be charitable, and 
come to me. My brother will escort you, and will see you 
home at night, unless you will stay. 

' Always your devoted 



The renewed acquaintance with Lady Davyntry was at 
this time an event of a fortnight old, and the irrepressible 
Eleanor had to a certain extent succeeded in thawino- the 
frozen exterior of the young woman's demeanour. Kind- 



WHAT THE WOMAN MEANT. 71 

ness, if even it were a little silly and over-demonstrative, 
was a refreshing novelty to Margaret, and she welcomed it. 

At first she had been a little hard, a little incredulous 
towards Lady Davyntry ; she had been inclined to treat her 
rapidly-developed fondness for herself as a caprice de grande 
dame. But she soon abandoned that harsh interpretation ; 
she soon understood that, though it was exaggerated in its 
expression, the affection with which she had inspired Lady 
Davyntry was perfectly sincere. 

Hence it came that Margaret had told her friend what 
were her views for her future ; but she had not raised the 
veil which hid the past. Of that dreadful time, with its 
horrid experience of sin and misery, with its contaminating 
companionship, and the stain which it had left of such know- 
ledge of evil and all the meanness of .vice as never should be 
brought within the ken of pure womanhood at any age, Mar- 
garet never spoke, and Lady Davyntry, though inquisitive 
enough in general, and by no means wanting in curiosity in 
this particular instance, did not seek to overcome her 
ireticence. 

She had considerable delicacy of mind, and, in Margaret's 
case, affection and interest brought her not-naturally-bright 
intelligence to its aid. She had noticed and understood the 
changeableness of Margaret's moods. She had seen her, 
when animated and seemingly happy in conversation with 
her or Mr Baldwin (what a treat it was to hear those two 
talk! she thought), suddenly lapse into silence, and all the 
colour would die out of her cheeks, and all the light from 
her eyes — struck away from them doubtless by the stirring 
of some painful memory, aroused from its superficial slumber 
by some word or phrase in which the pang of association 
lurked. 

She had seen the expression of weariness which Mar- 



rl A EIGHTED WKOKG. 

garet's figure had worn at first come over it again, and then 
the drooped head and the listless hands had a story in them, 
from even trying to guess at which the kind-hearted woman,, 
whose one grief had no touch of shame or dread or degrading 
remembrance in it, shrunk with true delicacy and keen 
womanly sympathy. 

Lady Davyntry had been a daily visitor at Chayleigh 
since Margaret's return. She treated Mrs Carteret with 
civility ; but she made it, as she intended, evident that the 
attraction was Margaret, and Mrs Carteret had to endure 
the mortifying conviction as best she could. Her best was 
not very good, and she never allowed an opportunity to pass 
of hitting Margaret's friend as hard as her feeble powers of 
sarcasm, which only attained the rank of spite, enabled her 
to hit her. Lady Davyntry was totally unconscious, and 
Margaret was profoundly indifferent. 

It happened, however, on this particular day, after the 
conclusion of Mrs Carteret's conversation with her step- 
daughter, and while she was superintending the interesting 
operation, performed by Collins, of altering the trimmings of 
a particularly becoming dress, that she came to a determ- 
ination to alter her tactics. She had not to dread a per- 
manent invasion of her territory, a permanent usurpation 
of her place by Margaret ; she would therefore profit by the 
temporary evil, and so entangle Lady Davyntry in civilities 
that it would be impossible for her to withdraw from so 
afficM an intimacy when Margaret should have left Chay- 
leigh. 

In all this there 'wag not a particle of regard for Lady 
Davyntry, of liking for her society, of a wish that the sup- 
posed intimacy should become real. It would be quite 
enough for her that the Croftons and the Crokers, the "Wil- 
lises, the Wyngroves, and the Savilles should know that Lady 



WHAT THE WOMAN MEANT. 73 



Davyntry was on the most familiar terms with the Cartercts, 
and quite beyond those to which any other family in the 
neighbourhood could lay claim. 

Mrs Carteret's busy small brain began to entertain an 
idea that Margaret's stay might be made profitable, in a 
social point of view, to her future position. 

The writing of the note of which Mr Baldwin was the 
bearer had been the subject of some doubt and discussion 
between Lady Davyntry and her brother. 

' Do you think it would do to ask her here, to dinner 
and all that, without asking Mrs Carteret, and making a 
regular business of it ? ' said Eleanor. 

' Of course it would,' returned Mr Baldwin. ' If you 
want to have Mrs Hungerford here, and do not want to 
have Mrs Carteret, as I understand you that you do, you 
could not have a better opportunity. Now is your time. 
You have a cold, you can't go out, and you certainly cannot 
see company. Write your note, Nelly, and I'll take it. I 
want to see Mr Carteret. Tou cannot have a better oppor- 
tunity.' 

' Let me see,' said Lady Davyntry, biting the top of her 
pen contemplatively ; ' Mr Dugdale is down at Oxford, isn't 
he?' 

' Yes,' said her brother ; ' gone to see his old tutor, — a 
fellow he is, but I forget his name, — and won't be back for 
three weeks.' 

' Well, then, I will ask Margaret alone. I thought, if 
Mr Dugdale had been at home, we might have asked him to 
come to dinner. But you won't mind seeing Mrs Hunger- 
ford home, Fitz, will you ? She could have the carriage, of 
course, and go round by the road ; but I am sure she would 
not like that.' 

Mr Baldwin was exceedingly complaisant and agreeable. 



74 A EIGHTED WRONG. 

So far from growling an assent in an undertone, sounding 
much more like a protest than an acquiescence, as is the 
usual manner of men with regard to the bosom friends of 
their sisters, he expressed his readiness to undertake the 
task of seeing Margaret home with a cheerful readiness quite 
beyond suspicion of its sincerity. 

"When Margaret had read the note, she twisted it in her 
fingers without speaking. Mr Baldwin's attention wandered 
a little, though Mr Carteret had opened one of the glass 
cases, and taken out a horrid object like an old-fashioned 
brooch with an areole of long spikes, and was expatiating 
upon it with great fervour. 

He looked at Margaret ; but her eyes were turned from 
him, straying over the garden. At last he moved to where 
she was sitting. 

' Tou will grant my sister's prayer,' he said. ' I know 
what is in the note. She really has a cold, Mrs Hungerford. 
It will be a charity if you will go to her. — What do you say, 
sir ? ' 

Mr Carteret said nothing, for the ample reason that he 
had not the remotest idea of what Mr Baldwin was talking 
about. When, however, that gentleman explained the mat- 
ter, he gave it as his decided opinion that Margaret ought 
to go for Lady -Davyntry's sake and her own. A little 
change would do her good. She must not mope, the kind 
gentleman said ; and he and Sibylla were but dull company 
now. She must find it dismal enough now that James was 
away. By-the-by, did Margaret know how Mr Fordham 
was ? Had James found him any better than he expected 
when he arrived at Oxford ? Yes, yes, Margery must go — 
she moped too much ; she did not even care for the speci- 
mens so much as she used to do. 

' Indeed I do, papa,' said Margaret, rising suddenly from 



WHAT THB WOMAN MEANT. 7o 

her seat and laying her hand on her father's shoulder ; ' I 
care for them a great deal more — for everything that inter- 
ests you, and that you care for.' 

Her luminous eyes were softer and brighter than Mr 
Baldwin had ever seen them. She had evidently been think- 
ing of something in the past with which her father's words 
had chimed in. He was waiting her decision with a strange 
feeling of suspense and anxiety, considering that the matter 
involved was of no greater moment than the question 
whether his sister's friend, who had seen her yesterday, and 
would in all probability see her to-morrow, should make up 
her mind to refrain from the luxury of seeing her to-day. 

' Do you, my dear ? ' said Mr Carteret. ' That's right ; 
you will go, of course, then, and Foster shall fetch you this 
evening. — No, indeed, Mr Baldwin, I could not think of 
your taking the trouble.' 

But Mr Baldwin insisted, subject to Mrs Hungerford's 
permission, that he would see her home. This permission 
she carelessly gave, and then left the room to prepare for 
her walk. The two men stood silent for a minute ; then Mr 
Carteret said, with a deep sigh, 

' Poor Margery ! she has had plenty of trouble in her 
time. I often wonder whether she is going to have peace 
now. "We can't give that to our sons and daughters, Bald- 
win, or get it from them either.' 

There was a sad desponding tone in Mr Carteret's voice. 
Xow he was beginning to understand something of the 
meaning and extent of the sorrow that had befallen his 
daughter — now, when the indelible stamp of its effect was 
set upon her changed face, upon her shrinking figure, upon 
her slow and unelastic movements. 

She had had time now to feel the repose, the comfort, 
the respectability of the home to which she had come back, 



76 A RIGHTED WRONG. 

and yet there was no change in her beyond the release from 
mere bodily fatigue. The wan weariness which he had not 
seen at first, but had seen when James Dugdale directed his 
attention to it, was there still, unaltered ; indeed, to the eye 
of a keen observer, it was deepened. In some cases, mere 
respite from physical labour does not produce the effect of 
mental repose. Margaret's case was one of those. 

Mr Baldwin did not reply to Mr Carteret's observation ; 
he walked towards the window, and looked dreamily out, as 
Margaret had done. Presently she came back, wearing her 
sombre mantle and the close widow's bonnet of a period 
when grand deuil, in the Mary-Stuart fashion, was unknown. 

' Tou will tell Mrs Carteret, if you please, papa, I could 
not find her.' 

' I will be sure to tell her,' said Mr Carteret ; ' and, 
Margery, I want you to observe Lady Davyntry's Angora 
cat very carefully, and bring me word whether she has one 
ring or two round the top of her tail. Don't forget this, my 
dear, for it is really an important point.' 

' I'll be sure to remember it, papa,' said Margaret ; and 
then she and Mr Eitzwilliam Meriton Baldwin went out 
through the French window of Mr Carteret's study, and 
took their way across the grassy terrace, through the lawn, 
to the little iron gate which opened into^ the meadow-lands, 
through which the ' short cut ' between Chayleigh and 
Davyntry lay. 

In the first field beyond this gate a noble clump of 
beeches stood. 

' That is a favourite point of view of Dugdale's,' said Mr 
Baldwin. 'I have two sketches he made of those forest 
lords. Splendid trees they are. I love them.' 

' And I hate them,' said Margaret. 

He glanced at her in surprise. Her tone was bitter, and 



WHAT THE WOMAN MEANT. / / 

her face wore an angry scornful look. But it was scorn of 
herself that Margaret was feeling. There, under the shade 
of those trees, she had come suddenly upon her brother and 
Godfrey Hungerford ; there the first incense of her worship 
of the false god had been offered up. She felt his glance, 
and instantly began to talk of Lady Davyntry's cold. 

' The idea,' she thought indignantly, ' of saying such a 
thing as that — of my betraying feelings to a stranger which 
it is impossible to explain.' 

The first visit made by Margaret to Davyntry was the 
beginning of a series which contributed not a little to bring- 
ing about the changed aspect of things at Chayleigh, at the 
end of the first month of Margaret's residence there. She 
was beginning to feel something like a revival of her youth. 
The cheerful society, the sense of being loved and valued ; 
the action of time, so mighty, so resistless, when one is 
young ; the future dim, indeed, but still in a great measure 
within her own control : these were all telling on the young 
widow. 

At first she had suffered keenly from the remembrance 
of the past episodes in her life, which seemed to set a bar- 
rier between her and the well-regulated, spotlessly respect- 
able social circle to which she was restored ; a social atmo- 
sphere in which shifts, contrivances, shady expedients for the 
procuring of shabby ends, were as unknown, as unconceiv- 
able, as the more violent roisterous vice with which she had 
also, and only too frequently, been brought into contact. 
At first, this sense of an existence, separate and apart from 
her present associates, oppressed Margaret strangely, and 
caused her to shrink away from the manifestations of Lady 
Davyntry's friendship with sudden coldness, quite inexplic- 
able to the impulsive Eleanor, whose life was all so 
emphatically aboveboard. 



78 A EIGHTED WEONG. 

There were times when, in the luxurious and picturesque 
drawing-room at Davyntry, whose treasures of old china and 
ivory caused Mrs Carteret acute pangs of envy, Margaret 
felt the whole scene fade from before her eyes like a stage 
transformation, and some squalid room which she had once 
inhabited rise up in its place, with its mingled wretchedness 
and recklessness ; a horrid vision of dirty packs of cards, of 
whisky-bottles, and the reek of coarse tobacco ; and the re- 
fined tones of Mr Baldwin's voice would mingle strangely in 
her ears with the echo of loud oaths and coarse laughter. 

At such times her face would harden, and the light 
would fade out of her eyes, and the grace would leave her 
form in some inexplicable way ; and, if the cloud settled 
heavily, and she knew it was going to last, she would make 
some excuse to get away and return to her father's house 
and the society of Mrs Carteret, to whom her moods, or 
indeed those of any human being in existence, except her- 
self, were matters of perfect indifference. 

Mr Baldwin thought he understood the origin of these 
sudden changes in Margaret Hungerford ; and, though he 
had no knowledge of the past, he discerned the spirit of the 
young widow with the marvellous skill which has its rise in 
very perfect sympathy. "When his sister spoke to him about 
her friend's strange manner at times, he entreated her not 
to notice it in any way. 

' She has had such troubles in her life, as, thank God, 
neither you nor I can understand, Nelly ; and when this 
cloud comes over her, depend upon it, it is because the re- 
membrance of them returns to her, made all the more real 
by the contrast here. Take no notice of it, and it will wear 
away in time.' 

' She seems to me, Fitzwilliam, as if she had some pain- 
ful secret pressing on her mind. I don't mean, of course,. 



WHAT THE WOMAN MEANT. 79 

any secret concerning herself, anything in her own life ; but 
Margaret constantly gives me the impression of being a 
person in possession of some knowledge unshared by any 
one else, and which she sometimes forgets, and then sud- 
denly remembers.' 

'It may be so,' said Mr Baldwin slowly, and looking 
very uncomfortable. ' I hope not ; I hope it is only the 
effect of the early trouble she has gone through.' 

' I wonder how she will get on when she leaves Chay- 
leigh,' said Lady Davyntry. 

' "When she leaves Chayleigh ! ' repeated her brother, 
surprised, for the intentions of Margaret had never been 
discussed in his presence. 

Then Lady Davyntry told him what Margaret had said 
to her, and how she had asked her advice and her aid. 

' I could not possibly advise her to remain all her life 
with that dreadful stepmother of hers, could I, Fitz ? You 
can understand what Mrs Carteret is in that relation, civil 
as she is to you. I really think she imagines you entertain 
a profound sentiment for her ; perfectly proper and Platonic, 
you know, but still profound ; and I don't think Margaret's 
naturally active mind could endure the idleness of the life 
at Chayleigh, even if Mrs Carteret were out of the question.' 

' Idleness ! ' said Mr Baldwin, ' what idleness ? There 
is just the same kind of life to be had at Chayleigh, I sup- 
pose, as women, as ladies, lead everywhere else — the kind of 
life Margaret was born to. I can't see the matter in that 
light.' 

' I dare say not, Ktz,' said Lady Davyntry, rather proud 
of the chance of offering a suggestion to this infallible and 
incomparable younger brother of hers. ' But I can. Mar- 
garet certainly was, as you say, born to lead the kind of life 
which all women of her position get through somehow; but 



80 A EIGHTED WEONG. 

then she was taken out of it very young, and, whatever it was 
she did or suffered, you may be sure that it gave her mind a 
turn not to be undone. Of course, I don't mean to say she 
wants to go back to that again, whatever it was ; but I am 
sure she must have some settled occupation to be happy. I 
do not think, when one's heart has been once crammed quite 
full of anything, be it joyful or sorrowful, one can stand a 
vacuum.' From which speech it will be made plain that 
Lady Davyntry did not cultivate her emotions at the ex- 
pense of her good sense. 

' Tou are right, Nelly ; I see you are quite right. But 
what does her father say ? ' 

' That I really cannot tell you ; but I suppose what Mr 
Carteret usually says, in any matter unconnected with birds, 
beasts, fishes, or insects— nothing. He and Margaret have 
a tacit understanding that Mrs Carteret and she are not ex- 
actly sympathetic, and he has a feeble desire that his 
daughter should be happy. Beyond that he really thinks 
nothing, and would have as much notion of the new life she 
wants to enter upou, as of the old life she has escaped from.' 

' What does Dugdale think ? ' 

' That I cannot tell you. Margaret never said a word 
about his opinion in connection with the matter. I don't 
think she likes him.' 

' No,' said Mr Baldwin, ' I don't think she does.' 

' I asked her to come to me,' Lady Davyntry continued, 
' and tried very hard to persuade her that I required the 
services of a dame de compagnie. But she laughed at me, 
and would not listen to me for a moment, though she told 
me she had once suggested to Mr Dugdale that she should 
ask me to take her, for the commendable purpose of spiting 
Mrs Carteret. " Do you think I want to play at independ- 
ence ? " she said. "If you do, you are much mistaken. I won't 



WHAT THE WOMAN MEANT. 81 

have any more shams, please God, in my life. No, I am 
going to work in earnest-." So I could not say any more. She 
may change her mind in six months, though I do not think 
she will.' 

Mr Fitzwilliam Meriton Baldwin left his sister to enter- 
tain a selection of the Croftons and the Crokers and the 
Willises, and betook himself to a solitary ramble. The 
question which he had asked himself when he had seen Mar- 
garet Hungerford but once had recurred to him very often 
since then. Now he asked himself if he might dare to hope 
that he had found the answer. 

He did not deny to himself now that he loved Margaret 
Hungerford. He was quite clear on that point: and he 
knew, too, that it was with an immortal and a worthy love. 
"What did she mean ? Was she to mean to him happiness— the 
realization of a man's best and wisest dreams ? Was she to 
mean this to him in time, or did that sombre past in her life, 
of which he knew nothing, interpose an impassable barrier 
between her and him ? He thought of Margaret's frank un- 
embarrassed manner towards him without discouragement ; 
he never fancied she could feel anything for him yet ; he per- 
fectly comprehended that nothing was so utterly dead for 
her as love. 

But he would have patience, he would wait ; a resurrec- 
tion morning might come ; he would try to win such a prize 
as she would be, not by a coup de main, but by slow degrees, 
if so it might be. In the true humility of his mind, in the 
perfect nobility of his soul, it never occurred to Mr Bald- 
win to think of himself as a prize also worth the winning. 

He had often laughed with his sister about the ' man- 
traps ' set for him ; but it was always Lady Davyntry, and 
not he, who had detected the devices prepared for the cap- 
tivation and capture of Mr Baldwin of the Deane. 



82 A RIGHTED WRONG. 

It rarely happened that Fitzwilliam Baldwin thought 
about his wealth ; his habits and tastes were simple, and his 
large property was well administered. He had been a rich 
man ever since he had come to years of manhood, and the 
fact had not the same significance for him which it assumes 
for those who come late to a long-looked-for inheritance, 
whose attractions are exaggerated by the aid of fancy. 

But he began to think complacently of his wealth now ; 
he began to see visions, and to dream dreams ; to think of 
the power he had to reverse all the former conditions of Mar- 
garet's life, let them have been what they might. At least 
he knew she had been unhappy; he could give her happiness, 
if unbounded love and respect, if the guarding her from every 
ill and care, if the holding her a sacred being, apart, to be 
seated in a shrine and worshipped, could give her happiness. 
This he could do, if she would but let him. 

He knew that she had been poor, that she had now no 
means of her own. There was his wealth, which had never 
been very important to him before, and could never be im- 
portant again if she would not in time take it from him. 
How he would lavish it upon her; how he would try, with- 
out annoying her in any way, to find out some of the fea- 
tures of her past experience, and efface them by the luxury 
and honour in which he would envelop her ! Fitzwilliam. 
Baldwin had advanced very far in a dream of this kind be- 
fore the end of the month. He had no longer any doubt of 
what this woman meant to him. 

Shortly after, and sooner than his return was looked for, 
James Dugdale came back to Chayleigh, and found a letter 
awaiting him. It was from Hayes Meredith. 



THE LETTER FROM MELBOURNE. 83 



CHAPTER X. 

THE LETTER PROM MELBOURNE. 

' Before you receive this letter, my dear Dugdale,' wrote 
Hayes Meredith, ' you will have seen Mrs Hungerford, and 
she will have told you all the news about me, in giving the 
history of herself — a history, by-the-by, which has had a 
better ending than I expected, when first I made her out, 
according to your request. 

' She is not much given to talking, I fancy, to any one, 
and I dare say she will not let you know much about her 
wretched life out here ; but T can tell you it was wretched ; 
and when I came to know her, and understand how superior 
a woman she is to the generality of women, such as I have 
known them, I was really grateful to you for giving me tho 
chance of serving her. I don't think I was much more 
obliged to you in my life, and I have owed you a turn or two. 

' Hungerford was a regular blackguard, and an irredeem- 
able snob as well, and she was only to be congratulated 
heartily on his death. The mode of it was rather horrible, 
to be sure ; but if he had not been knocked on the head in 
the bush, the chances are he would have been hanged ; and 
there's something to choose between the two, at all events. 

' She is an interesting young woman, and I was sincerely 
glad to do her all the service in my power, which was not 
much, after all. I should like to know what becomes of her. 
I hope she has better days to see than any she lived through 
here ; and I hope you will write to me when you can. 

' But my letter does not solely concern Mrs Hungerford. 
I have a selfish purpose in writing to you also, and the ex- 



84 A RIGHTED WRONG. 

planation of it needs some detail. You know that I am, 
and that I have been for some years, what I may safely call 
a prosperous man ; and though I have a large family to pro- 
vide for — five of them now (they were seven, but two little 
ones early succumbed to the climate) — I have never found 
that same very difficult to do. My children are all well, 
hearty, jolly, sturdy children, with the exception of our eldest 
boy— you have seen him, you may remember — Robert. He 
is not exactly sickly, but he is not strong ; but it is less his 
bodily than his mental health that troubles his mother and 
myself. 

' The boy is not contented, not happy, not a born colonial, 
like the rest ; he has ideas and fancies other than theirs ; he 
has an unruly temper, a quick impressionable brain, and a 
great aptitude for the graces, refinements, and luxuries of 
life, which — as I need not tell you it has had no chance of 
cultivation here — must be natural to him. 

' His mother and I are not people to have a favourite 
among our children ; it is share and share alike with them 
all, in affection as in everything else ; but Robert is a discord 
somehow, and captious — in short, very hard to manage — 
and I have not the time to devote to an exceptional person 
in the family. 

' He has a great notion that he is very superior to his 
brothers — quite an unfounded one — and thinks he should do 
no end of wonderful things in England, if he had the chance, 
by which, of course, he means the money. This I can give 
him ; and as there is no doubt he can get a better education 
in England than here, and should his projects fail, or should 
he get tired of them, he can come back whenever he pleases, 
and still find a corner for himself here, I am quite disposed 
to let him try his own plans out. 

' The others are true colonials ; they have not the least 



THE LETTER FROM MELBOURNE. 85 

desire to see the old country until they can do so in independ- 
ent manhood ; but I can plainly perceive that, for his own 
sake, and that of all the household, Robert must be allowed 
to have his own way, as far as it lies in my power to give it 
him. 

' There is some prospect of an improved and accelerated 
communication between us and England, and should it be 
realized by the spring of next year, I will probably bring the 
boy to England myself, and thus see you once more in this 
world, which I never had any hope of doing a little while 
ago. 

' My wife does not like, nor, to tell the truth, do I, the 
notion of a whole year being taken out of our span of life to- 
gether, which it must be if I make my proposed voyage; but 
neither does she like the idea of her son travelling alone 
to a strange country, and commencing his career without the 
assistance and the comfort of his father's presence and guid- 
ance in those important " first steps." "We shall see, when 
the time comes, which of these feelings will prevail. 

' In the mean time, my dear Dugdale, I rely on your 
friendship, aided by your experience of English life, and all 
the changes in public opinion and manners which have taken 
place since my time, to guide me in this matter, to tell me 
what it will be best for me to do for and with the boy. 

' Robert is not ill educated, in as far as the limits of our 
colonial possibilities extend ; but his education will aid him 
little in English life, and towards that his inclinations set. 

' Turn all I have said over, and write to me concerning 
it. Then, by the time I get home, if I ever get home, and 
if I do not, by the time I send my boy home, you will have 
made up your mind, which, in a matter of this kind will be, 
as it ought to be, equivalent to making up mine, as to the 
proper course to be pursued. 



86 A EIGHTED WRONG. 

' With all his faults, Eobert will interest you, my dear 
Dugdale, I am certain; in his industry, his ambition, and his 
adaptive nature you will find something to admire. 

' I have almost forgotten the ways of the old country, so 
completely have I turned- — not my mind only, but my heart 
and my tastes — to the life of the new. I dare say you re- 
member the days in which I was rather a ' buck,' ran heavy 
accounts with our common tailor, and knew, or pretended to 
know, a lot about good dinners and wines. 

' Ask Mrs Hungerford what sort of rough and gruff old 
fellow I am now, and you will understand, from her de- 
scription, the difficulty I should have in getting into, or even 
comprehending, the ways of the other side of the world again. 
But, remembering what I once did know, and thinking of 
what I have heard and seen since I ceased to know, I think 
Eobert is cut out for success in England. Mind, he will not 
have it all to do unaided ; he will have a little money, enough 
to keep him respectable, to back him. 

' I feel I am unwise in thus talking to you so much be- 
forehand of Eobert — time enough when we meet, as I hope 
we shall do; but I have a notion you might hit upon some 
plan for him for the future more easily and successfully if 
you had an idea of the sort of person he is. 

' If his mother could see this letter, and recognize the 
very moderate colours in which I have sketched her eldest 
son, I don't think I should hear the last of it between this 
and the date at which I and he are to start for England. I 
am such a dolt in these matters, I do not rightly know what 
to ask you to think about, or advise me upon; but you will 
know generally. Shall it be private tuition, or public school, 
or business life at once combined with education? 

' My other boys never give me the least anxiety. I know 
they will take to the sheep-walk or the counting-house as 



THE LETTER FROM MELBOURNE. 87 

readily as to their food, and plod on as comfortably and as 
cheerily as possible. And, indeed, while I am anxious about 
Robert, it would be giving you an unfair impression to 
say that I am uneasy about him. I am not that; but 
he is so different a stamp, I hardly know how to manage 
him . 

' I have written all this to you with as much ease and 
confidence as if we were smoking together in the old quarters, 
velveteen-coated and slippered, as in the time I remember 
so well. I wonder if you — who have remained in England, 
to whom, at all events, life cannot have brought such physi- 
cal changes as it has brought to me — remember it half so 
well as I do. 

' There are hours even yet, when I am alone and thinking, 
when all that has intervened seems utterly unreal, and those 
old days, with their old associations, the one true and living 
period in my life. Do you remember the day after you, poor 
little shivering youngster as you were then, came to the 
school, when I was a great hulking fellow, and my mother, 
G-od bless her ! came to visit me, and, being taken by old 
Maddox to see the playground, was just in time to behold 
me tumble from the very top of the forbidden pear-tree and 
break my arm ? 

I can see her face and hear her voice now, as plainly as if 
I could see the one and hear the other by going into the next 
room. And how you cried! Well, well, I suppose something 
of the boy remains until the last in every man's nature, and 
that more of it has the chance of remaining in our lives here 
than in yours at home. 

' The progress of this place is extraordinary, and there are 
rumours of discoveries in metals, and so forth, which, if veri- 
fied, will give it very great impetus. I don't mind them much ; 
they don't disturb and they don't excite me even in this go- 



88 A RIGHTED WRONG. 

ahead colonial life. I carry my old steadiness about with 
me, and am go-ahead in my own business only. 

'There is much in the political and social world here 
which would interest, but little which would please you, un- 
less you are very much changed. 

' I never could arrive at a very clear notion of you from 
Mrs Hungerford ; she was not communicative on any point, 
and she never told me anything about you, except that your 
health was delicate, which I could have told her from your 
letter. The sort of life we lead here is certainly calculated 
to give one the power of feeling acutely for a man to whom 
bodily exertion is forbidden ; but you were always a patient 
fellow.' 

The letter was a very long one ; the above is but an ex- 
tract from it. James Dugdale had recognized the handwrit- 
ing of his friend with pleasure, and had opened the letter 
with delighted eagerness. It would tell him something of 
Margaret ; it would give him an insight into the troubles of 
her life ; it would give him a clue to the enigma which lived 
and moved within his sight and his reach daily. 

But his calculations were overthrown ; he perceived at 
once that he was destined to gain no further knowledge of 
Margaret's past life from Hayes Meredith. The disappoint- 
ment was so keen that at first he hardly had power to feel 
the interest in his friend's communication which it was cal- 
culated to evoke ; and, when he had read half through the 
letter, he returned to the earlier portion in which Margaret 
was mentioned, and reperused it. 

' I wish he had even told me more about Hungerford's 
death,' said James Dugdale to himself. He was lying on a 
couch drawn close to the window of his own room, and he 
allowed the letter to drop by his side, and his gaze fixed 
itself on the landscape as he spoke. ' I wish he had said 



THE LETTER FROM MELBOURNE. 89 

more about bim. What were the circumstances of his death ? 
The little be says here, and one sentence of Margaret's — 
" when I first heard that my husband had been murdered by 
the black fellows" — comprise all I know — all any one knows 
— for her father would not mention his name, and I verily 
believe has forgotten that the man ever existed. I wish he 
bad told me more.' 

He resumed the letter and read it again, this time 
through to the end, steadily and attentively. 

Then he said slowly, and with a despondent shake of the 
head : 

' I am very much afraid my old friend's son, Robert, is a 
bad boy.' 

James Dugdale had not been more than an hour at Chay- 
leigb when he had read Hayes Meredith's letter. His return 
was unexpected, and he had been told by the servant who 
admitted him that the ' ladies' were out. This was true, in- 
asmuch as neither was in the house, but incorrect in so far 
as it seemed to imply that they were together. 

Mrs Carteret had departed in her pony-carriage, arrayed 
in handsome apparel, the materials and tints whereof were 
a clever combination of the requirements of the season then 
expiring and the season just about to begin, witb a genteel 
recognition of the fact that an individual connected witb 
the family had died within a period during which society 
would exact a costume commemorative of the circumstance. 
Mrs Carteret had gone out, in high good humour with her- 
self, and her dress, and her pony-carriage, witb her smart 
servant, her pretty harness, her visiting-list, and the state of 
ber complexion. 

This latter was a subject of unusual self-gratulation, for 
Mrs Carteret's complexion was changeable : it needed care, 
and, on the whole, it caused her more uneasiness, and occu- 



90 A RIGHTED WRONG. 

pied more of her attention, than any other mundane object. 
She was by no means a plain woman, and she had once been 
pretty — but her prettiness had been of a sunny, commonplace, 
exasperating, self-complacent kind ; and now that it existed 
no longer, the expression of self-satisfaction was rather in- 
creased than lessened, for there was no delicacy of feature 
and no genuine bloom to divert attention from it. 

If Mrs Carteret believed anything firmly, it was that she 
was indisputably and incomparably the best, and very nearly 
the handsomest, of created beings ; and she had a way of 
talking solemnly about her personal appearance, — taking 
careful note of its every peculiarity and variation, and bestow- 
ing upon it the minutest and most vexatious care, — which 
was annoying to her friends in general, and to James Dug- 
dale in particular. 

Mrs Carteret was a woman who would be totally un- 
moved by any kind or degree of human suffering brought 
under her notice, but who would speak of a cold in her own 
head, or a pimple on her own face, as a calamity calculated 
to alarm and grieve the entire circle of her acquaintance. 
She was almost amusing in her transparent, engrossing, 
uncontrolled selfishness — amusing, that is, to strangers. It 
was not so pleasant to those who lived in the house or came 
into constant contact with her ; they failed to perceive the 
humorous side of her character. 

Her husband, who, with all his oddity and absence of 
mind, was not destitute of a degree of tact, in which there 
was a soupgon of cunning, and which he aired whenever 
there was any risk of his dearly-prized 'quiet life' being- 
endangered, had invented a kind of vocabulary of compli- 
ments of simulated solicitude and exaggerated sympathy, 
which was wonderfully efficacious, and really gave him very 
little trouble. To be sure he was rather apt to adhere to it 



THE LETTEE FKOM MELBOURNE. 91 

with a parrot-like fidelity, and on her ' pale days ' to con- 
gratulate Mrs Carteret on her bloom, and on her ' dull days ' 
to discover that it was difficult to leave her, she talked so 
charmingly — ' but those new specimens must be seen to,' 
&c., &c. 

But these were mere casualties, and, as intense vanity is 
frequently accompanied by dense stupidity, they never en- 
dangered the good understanding between the husband — ■ 
who was not nearly so tired of his wife as a more clever and 
practical man must inevitably have been — and the wife, whose 
wildest imaginings could never have extended to the pos- 
sibility of any one's finding her less than perfectly admirable, 
or her husband otherwise than supremely enviable. 

In the days when Mrs Carteret had been pretty, her 
prettiness was of the corset-maker's model description, a 
prettiness which consisted in straight features, a high and 
well-defined colour, and a figure which required, and could 
bear, a good deal of tight-lacing. 

Women did lace tightly in the golden prime of Mrs 
Carteret's days, and she was not behindhand in that or any 
other fashion; indeed, she had a profound and almost religious 
respect for fashion, and she had, in consequence, a stiffness 
of figure suggestive of her being obliged to turn round ' all 
at once ' when it was necessary for her to turn at all, which 
gave her whole person an air and attitude of stiff and starched 
stupidity, highly provoking to an observer endowed with 
taste. 

The paying of morning visits was an occupation especially 
congenial to Mrs Carteret's taste, and well suited to her 
intellectual capacity, which answered freely to the demand 
made on it on such occasions. She was not by any means 
a vulgar gossip, but she possessed a satisfactory enough 
knowledge of the affairs and ' ways ' of all the ' visitable ' 



92 A E1GHTED WEONG. 

people within reach, and she found discussing them a very- 
agreeable pastime. 

She was not so stupid a woman as to be unaware that 
she and her affairs were discussed in their turn ; but her 
invariable conviction that, in all respects, she was a faultless 
being, rendered the knowledge painless. 

Thus, when Mrs Carteret set out on a round of visits, in 
the aforesaid equipage and in her customary choice apparel, 
she was as happy as it was in her not expansive nature to 
be. 

All the happier that Margaret did not accompany her, 
for, though Margaret's heavy mourning dress was not a bad 
foil to the taste and elegance, as she believed, of her own, 
people were apt to be too much interested in, too curious 
about, the young widow — always rather an interesting 
object — for the fancy of Mrs Carteret, who did not admire 
her stepdaughter herself, and to whom it was neither in- 
telligible nor pleasant that other people should admire her. 

As to Lady Davyntry and Mr Baldwin (for she had been 
forced to include the brother with the sister in the category 
of Margaret's friends), she had, as we have seen, resolved to 
find her account in that intimacy, and she did not trouble 
herself about it. ' 

At the same hour in which Mrs Carteret was giving way 
to her self-complacent sentiments, Margaret was taking 
leave of Lady Davyntry. She had been at Davyntry since 
the morning, and was then going home.. Mr Baldwin was 
ready, according to his now almost invariable custom, to offer 
her his escort, 

It was quite the end of October, a soft, shadowy, beautiful 
day, the air full of the faint perfume of the fallen leaves and, 
of the golden gleam of the sunshine, which lingered as if 
regretfully. Lady Davyntry accompanied Margaret to the 



THE LETTEE FROM MELBOURNE. 93 

little garden-gate which opened into the demesne, and then 
took leave of her. 

When her friend and her brother had left her, she stood 
for a few minutes looking after them, then walked up the 
garden-path, saying to herself : 

' I hope I shall be able to hold my tongue about it, and 
not spoil all by letting her see that such an idea has ever 
entered into my head ! ' 

In many respects Lady Davyntry was a sensible woman. 

Margaret and her companion went on their way, slowly. 
They were talking of a projected journey on the part of Mr 
Baldwin. He was going to visit his Scotch estates. 

' I have not been much there,' he said ; ' my time has 
mostly been passed abroad. My longest stay at the Deane 
was when poor Nelly was there with Sir Richard ; and, of 
course, I can't expect her to go back to the scene of all her 
trouble so soon ; so I must go alone. 

' Can't you ? ' said Margaret, with a sudden flush on her 
cheek ; ' I should have thought it would have been her 
greatest, her best consolation. But people feel so differently,' 
she said absently ; and then made some remark about the 
beauty of the day. Her companion wondered at her strange 
manner. He took the hint to change the subject. 

' Shall you be long away ? ' Margaret asked him. 

He would have been only too happy to tell her that the 
duration of his absence would depend entirely on her plea- 
sure — to tell her what was the truth, that he was leaving 
her now because he loved her, and hoped the day might 
come when he might try to make her love him ; when respect 
for her position should no longer bind him to silence. 

He felt he could not remain in her vicinity during the 
time that must elapse before he could venture to acknow- 
ledge his feelings, without the risk of offending her, perhaps 



94 A RIGHTED WEONG. 

losing her by their premature betrayal, and he had deter- 
mined to go to Scotland and remain there until the time 
should be near when she thought of leaving Chayleigh. 

Then he would return and take his chance. If she 
would accept the love, the home, the fortune he had to offer 
her, he almost dreaded to think what happiness life — which 
had never been adorned with any very brilliant hues of im- 
agination by him before — would have in store for him. 

When she asked him, in her clear, sweet voice, whose 
tones were to-day as pure and untroubled as if she had 
never spoken any words but those of the gladness which 
should so well have beseemed her youth, that careless ques- 
tion, he felt all the difficulty of the restraint he had imposed 
upon himself. 

' I am not quite certain,' he replied ; ' I dare say I shall 
find a great deal to do at the Deane, and a good deal will be 
expected from me in the way of sociability — a tribute, by 
the way, which I render very unwillingly. I — I suppose 
you will not leave Chayleigh this winter ? ' 

' I don't think my father has any intention of going any- 
where,' Margaret said ; ' and I shall remain with him until 
I leave him " for good " — as people say when they leave for 
the equal chance of good or evil. I believe, too, there is a 
chance of my brother's coming home. ' 

' Indeed,' said Mr Baldwin ; ' that is good news. I 
didn't hear anything of it.' 

' No. I told Lady Davyntry this evening, before you 
came in. I should like to be here when Haldane comes ' 
— and her face was overcast by the mournful, musing ex- 
pression he knew and loved so well. ' He and I quarrelled 
before he went away — but I suppose he will not keep that 
up with me now.' 

She looked round with a forlorn kind of smile actually 



THE LETTER PROM MELBOURNE. 95 

painful to see. In it there was an appeal to the dreariness 
of her lot, to the terrible blight which had settled on her 
youth, against harsh judgment of the wilfulness and folly 
which had led her to such a doom, inexpressibly affecting. 

The strong restraint, the habitual patience which she 
maintained over all her emotions, seemed to forsake her 
quite suddenly. Her companion might have taken it as a 
good omen for him that it was in his company alone the con- 
trol was loosened ; but he did not think of himself, only of 
her. 

The forlorn smile was succeeded by an ominous twitch- 
ing of the lips, and the next moment Margaret had covered 
her face with her hands and burst into tears. 

Mr Baldwin watched her with inexpressible pangs of 
love and pity. He dared not speak. "What could he say ? 
He knew nothing, though he could surmise much, of the past 
which had given rise to this burst of emotion. 

To try to console was to seem to question her. He 
stood by her in the keenest distress, and could only entreat 
her to remember that it was all over now. The paroxysm 
passed over as he uttered the words for the second time. 

Margaret took her hands away from her face, and looked 
at him, and there was an angry sparkle in her eye which he 
had never seen before, but which he thought very beautiful. 

' You don't believe what you say,' she said quickly, and 
walking on hurriedly as she spoke ; ' you don't believe what 
you say. You know there are things in life which are never 
over — sorrows and experiences which time can never change. 
When you say to me that it is all over now, you say what is 
not true, and you know it, or you guess it ; you might know 
it if you would. Do you think I am like other women, like 
your sister, for instance, with nothing but pure and sanctify- 
ing grief for the dead, to ripen my mind? Do you think I 



96 A RIGHTED WRONG. 

am like her, or like any other woman, whose quiet life, how- 
ever sad, has been led in decency, and has been sheltered and 
guarded by the protections which may be found in honest 
poverty? Do you think I can come home here, and find 
myself once more among the people and places I knew when 
I was a girl, and not feel like a cheat? I tell you the Past is 
not all over ; it will stand as long as I live between me and 
other people— not my employers, for there will be no as- 
sociations in their case ; but every one who knew me once, 
and who knows me now. Why does no one speak to me, in 
even a casual way, of the places I have seen, or the people 
I have been amongst? Do you think I imagine it is because 
they are unwilling to awaken a slumbering sorrow ? No ! 
You know, and I know, it is because they feel that I have 
seen sights unfit for women's eyes, and heard words unfit for 
women's ears; and can I ever forget it while others remem- 
ber it whenever they see me ? No, no, no ! I never, never 
can! ' 

She pressed her small hands together and slightly wrung 
them, a gesture habitual to her in distress, but which he had 
never seen before. He caught her right hand in his, and 
drew it within his arm. She walked on with him, but was, 
as he knew, almost unconscious of his presence. 

How he loved her ! how he hated the dead man who had 
caused her to suffer thus ! A young man himself, and she no 
more than a girl; and yet how little of the aspect, how little 
of the sense of youth there was about either as they walked 
together through the woods and fields that day ! 

This sudden revelation of Margaret's feelings brought a 
sense of despair to Fitzwilliam Baldwin. If the spectre of 
the past haunted her thus, if she were divided from all the 
present by this drear shade, then was she divided from him 
too. 



THE LETTER FEOM MELBOURNE. 97 

How should he hope to lay the ghost which thus walked 
abroad in the noonday beside her ? Had he had a little more 
experience, had not Margaret been so completely a new type 
of womanhood to him, had he had a little less humility, he 
would have taken courage from the fact that she had given 
utterance to such feelings before him. 

That he had seen Margaret as no other human being 
had ever seen her, ought to have been an indication to him 
that, however unconsciously to her, he was to Margaret 
what no other human being was. The time was to come in 
which he was to make that discovery ; but that time was not 
yet, and he left her that day with profound discouragement. 

She recovered herself after a little, and when they reached 
the confines of the demesne of Chayleigh they were talking 
in their ordinary manner of ordinary subjects, but Margaret's 
arm still rested on that of her companion, nor was it removed 
until they reached the little gate between the wood and the 
pleasaunce. 

As they crossed the lawn, Margaret's dress swept the 
fallen leaves rustling after her. She was very near the house 
now, and the sound caught James Dugdale's ear as he lay on 
his couch in the window. He raised himself on his elbow 
and looked out. The letter from Hayes Meredith was still 
in his hand. Margaret looked up and greeted him with a 
smile. 

The next moment she was in the verandah, and he heard 
her laugh as she spoke to her father. Her voice thrilled his 
heart as it had done on the first day of her return. Her 
laugh had something like the old sound in it, which he had 
riot heard since she was a girl. Good God ! how long ago ! 
She was looking better than when he went away. She was 
happy again in her old home. 

He went down-stairs, and they had a pleasant meeting. 

7 



98 A EIGHTED WRONG. 

Margaret was kindly interested in his Oxford news. Mr 
Baldwin and Mr Carteret talked together. James and 
Margaret remained in the verandah until after Mr Baldwin 
had taken his leave, and the sharp trot of Mrs Carteret's 
ponies was audible. Then Margaret said : 

' I must go and get ready for dinner.' 

And James detained her for a moment, saying : 

' I have a letter which will interest you. It is from a 
friend of yours.' 

' A friend of mine ? ' said Margaret, in surprise. ' Who 
can it be ? I have but two or three friends in the world.' 

' A cynic would tell you you were exceptionally rich in 
friends, according to that calculation. How do you count 
them? ' 

' Yourself,' said Margaret, with more frank kindness of 
tone than he had ever before recognized in her manner 
towards him. 

' Apres ? ' 

' Well, Lady Davyntry.' 

'And Hayes Meredith? That is it, is it not? The 
letter is from him. Tou shall hear all about it after dinner.' 

Margaret left him and went to her room. She felt 
rather vexed with herself. When she answered James 
Dugdale's question, she had not been thinking of Hayes 
Meredith. 



CHAPTEE XI. 

POOLS' PABA.DISE. 



Shortly after the incidents narrated in the preceding 
chapter, Mr Baldwin left Davyntry. His sister maintained 



fools' paradise. 99 

to the last the strong constraint she had put upon herself. 
She had seen with a genuine disinterested pleasure, for 
which the world in general might fairly have been excused 
for not giving her credit, that her young favourite had cap- 
tivated her only brother. 

"Without being a very wise, a very witty, or in any mark- 
ed way a very superior woman, Eleanor Davyntry possessed 
certain admirable and estimable qualities. Not the least 
remarkable, and perhaps the most rare of these, was disin- 
terestedness. This virtue was in her : it did not arise from 
circumstances. She was not disinterested because she was 
rich, — the amount of wealth in people's possession makes 
no difference in their appreciation of and desire for wealth, 
— and Lady Davyntry 'had no nonsense about her.' 

She thoroughly understood the value of her money as a 
means towards the enjoyment of the happiness which she 
acknowledged to be hers ; but it never occurred to her for a 
moment to consider her own interests in the question of her 
brother's future. That he would probably marry at some 
time she looked upon as certain ; and the inheritance of the 
Deane from one so much younger than herself would not 
have been a hopeful subject of speculation, had she been a 
person who would have speculated upon it at all. Even if 
she had had children, it would have been all the same to 
Lady Davyntry. She would not have been covetous for 
them any more than for herself. She had thought rather 
nervously, since Sir Richard's death had left her more de- 
pendent on her brother for the love and companionship 
without which life would have been intolerable to a woman 
of her disposition, of the probabilities of Mr Baldwin's 
marriage. 

Lady Davyntry had her prejudices ; one of them was 
against Scotchwomen. She hoped he would not marry a 



100 A RIGHTED WRONG. 

Scotchwoman, therefore she had never encouraged her 
brother's residence at the Deane. 

' It is not so much their ankles and wrists,' she had as- 
sured Sir Richard, when he had remonstrated with her for 
'snubbing' a florid young lady who hailed from Aberdeen, and 
did it in a voice wilich set Lady Davyntry's teeth on edge, 
and made her backbone quiver, 'as it is their minds and 
their ways. Of course, the way they speak is very awful, 
and the way they move is worse; but I could stand all that, 
I dare say. But what I cannot stand is their coarse way of 
looking at things, and the hardness of them in general. 
And as for flirting! You may think it is not dangerous, 
because it is all romping and hoydenism ; but I don't want a 
sister-in-law of Miss MacAlpine's pattern, and so I tell you.' 

' Hadn't you better tell Baldwin so, my dear Nelly ?' the 
reasonable baronet had made answer. 'J don't want a 
Mac Alpine importation into the family either; but, after all, 
it's his business, not mine.' 

' No, no,' said the astute Nelly ; ' I am not quite so 
stupid as to warn any man against a particular woman of whom 
he has hitherto taken no special notice. That would be 
just the way to make him notice her, and that would be 
playing her game for her. I am not really afraid of the 
fair Jessie; Fitzwilliam can see her wrists, and her ankles too, 
quite as plainly as I can ; and I fancy he suffers rather more 
acutely from her accent. I shall Limit my interference to 
getting him away from the Deane.' 

Other and sadder preoccupations soon after claimed Lady 
Davyntry, and Miss Jessie MacAlpine was forgotten. And 
now, when her brother spoke of leaving her to return to 
the' Deane, she remembered the young woman and her 
mosstrooper-like accomplishments without a shade of appre- 
hension. 



fools' paradise. 101 

' Sly darling Margaret has made my mind quite easy on 
that point, at all events,' thought Eleanor, as Mr Baldwin 
imparted to her some of his intentions for the benefit of his 
tenantry and estate. ' Whether she cares for him or not, 
whether good or evil is to be the result, — and I believe all 
will go well with them both, — he is safe in such an attach- 
ment.' 

When her brother had left her, Eleanor thought long 
and happily over it all. Of his feelings she did not enter- 
tain a doubt, and her keen feminine perception had begun to 
discern in Margaret certain symptoms which led her to hope 
that for her too the dawn of a fair day was at hand. If she 
had known more of the young Avidow's inner life, if she had 
had a clearer knowledge of her past, Lady Davyntry would 
have hoped less and feared more. But her ignorance pre- 
vented the discouragement of fear, and her natural enthu- 
siasm aided the impulses of hope ; and she saw visions and 
dreamed dreams which were pure and beautiful, for they 
were all of the happiness and the good of others. 

Thus Margaret's sadness and silence, the gloom which 
sometimes settled heavily over her, did not grieve her watch- 
ful friend. If only she loved, or should come to love, Eitz- 
william Baldwin, all this should be changed. All the dark- 
ness should pass away, and a life adorned with all that 
wealth could lend, enriched with all that love could give, 
should open before the woman whose feet had hitherto 
trodden such weary ways. Lady Davyntry pleased herself 
with fancies of all she should do to increase the happiness 
of that splendid visionary household at the Deane. 

If Lady Davyntry could have known what were Mar- 
garet's thoughts just at the time when Mr Baldwin went 
away, she would have felt some discouragement, though not 
so much as a person less given to enthusiasm, and to the 



102 A RIGHTED WRONG. 

raising of a fancy to the rank and importance of a hobby. 
She had never realized any of the painful features of Mrs 
Hungerford's past life ; she had never tried to realize them. 
Her mind was not of an order to which the realization of 
circumstances entirely out of the sphere of her experience 
was possible, and she never speculated upon them. 

In a different way, and for quite another class of reason, 
Lady Davyntry had arrived at a state of mind similar to 
that of Mr Carteret, who regarded the blissful fact of his 
son-in-law's death as not only the termination, but the con- 
signment to oblivion, of all the misery his existence had oc- 
casioned. 

' Of course she is low at times,' thought Lady Davyntry ; 
' that is only natural. After all, she must feel herself out of 
her place at Chayleigh, with that detestable woman. But 
that will not last ; and she will be all the brighter and hap- 
pier when Eitz has her safely at home.' 

The world would have found it hard to understand that 
Mr Baldwin's only sister — the great, rich, enviable, to-be- 
cap tured-if-possible Mr Baldwin's sister — should desire so 
ardently the marriage of her brother with a person who had 
no fortune, no claim to personal distinction, and — a story. 
Horrible dowry for a woman ! Better any insignificance, 
however utter. 

And Margaret ? While Mr Baldwin was attending to 
the long-neglected demands, undergoing active persecution 
at the hands of a neighbourhood resolved on intimacy, and 
longing, with all the strength of his heart, for the sight of 
Margaret's pale face and the sound of her thrilling voice — 
while his sister was building castles in the air for him to 
tenant — what of Margaret? What of her who was the 
centre, so unconsciously to herself, of all these hopes and 
speculations ? 



pools' paradise. 103 

She was perhaps farther just then than she had ever been 
from a mood which was likely to dispose her towards their 
realization. She had been disturbed rather than affected by 
the perusal of Hayes Meredith's letter. It had immediately 
succeeded to the outburst of emotion to which she had 
yielded in the presence of Mr Baldwin, and for which she 
had afterwards taken herself severely to task ; and it had 
upset her hard-worn equanimity. 

She was ashamed of herself, angry with herself, when she 
found out how much she desired that the past should be 
utterly forgotten. She had had to bear it all, and she had 
borne it, not so badly on the whole ; but she did not want 
any reference to it ; she shrunk from any external associa- 
tion with it as from a physical pain. Her reluctance to en- 
counter any such association had strangely increased within 
the past few weeks. 

She did not know, she did not ask herself, why. "Was 
she ungrateful because she had felt intense reluctance to 
read Hayes Meredith's letter ? Had she forgotten, had she 
ceased to thank him for all he had done to lighten her lot ? 
"Was she so cold, so ' shallow-hearted,' as to think, as many 
a vulgar-minded woman would have thought, that her ac- 
count with the man who had succoured her in a strange 
land was closed with the cheque which her father had given her 
to be sent to him, in payment of the money he had lent her ? 

No, Margaret Hungerford was not ungrateful ; but there 
was a sore spot in her heart which something — she did not 
ask what — was daily making sorer ; the letter had touched 
it, and she shrunk with keen unexplained anguish from the 
touch. She lay awake the whole night after she had read 
the letter from Melbourne, and it seemed to her that she 
lived all the old agonies of despair, rage, humiliation, and 
disgust over again. 



104 A RIGHTED WEONG. 

It chanced that the next day James Dugdale was ill, 
This was so common an occurrence that no one thought 
much about it. James was familiar with suffering, and it 
was the inevitable penalty of fatigue. Not for him was the 
healthy sense of being tired, and of refreshing rest. Fatigue 
came to him with pain and fever, with racked limbs, and 
irritable nerves, and terrible depression. His journey had 
tired him, and he lay all day on the couch placed in the 
window of his room. 

Hither came Mrs Carteret frequently, fussily, but 
genuinely kind, and Mr Baldwin, to say some friendly words, 
and feel the truest compassion for the strong man thus 
imprisoned in his weak frame. Hither, later in the day, and 
much to the surprise of James Dugdale, came Margaret. 
He had thought she had gone to Davyntry, and said so. 
She reddened, a little angrily, as she replied, 

' JN"o : I have not been out. Tou seem to think I must 
always go to Davyntry ' 

' Not /, indeed, Margaret,' said James, with a smile ; ' but 
I think iliey do. Since I have been away, I understand you 
have been constantly at Davyntry, and I am very glad to 
hear it ; it is good for you and for Lady Davyntry also.' 

' Perhaps so ; she is very kind,' said Margaret absently. 
' At all events, I am not there to-day, as you see, and I am 
not going there, or anywhere, but I will sit here with you, 
if I may.' 

She turned on him one of her rare, winning smiles — a 
smile far more beautiful, he thought, than any her girlhood 
had been decked in. She drew a low chair into the bow of 
the window, beside his couch, and sat down. Between him 
and the light was her graceful figure, and her clear pale 
face, with its strangely-contrasted look of youth and 
experience. 



pools' paradise. 105 

' Are you really going to give up all the afternoon to 
me ? ' said James, in delight. 

' I really am. I will read to you, or we can talk, just as 
you like. I suppose you don't feel any great fancy for 
turning tutor to me over again, though I see all my old 
school-books religiously preserved on your book-shelves,' 
she said, glancing round at the well-stocked walls of the 
room, which had been the school-room in the days when 
Haldane and she had been James's pupils. 

' I have kept every remembrance of that time, Margaret,' 
said James. 

There was a tone in his voice which might have been a 
revelation to her, had she heard it, but she did not. She 
smiled again, and said : 

' Tou had a troublesome pupil. I am in a good mood to- 
day, as I used to say long ago, and I want to talk to you 
about this.' 

She took Hayes Meredith's letter out of her pocket as 
she spoke. 

James Dugdale kept silence, looking at her. ' Is she 
going to tell me the story of her life ? ' he thought. ' Am 
I going at last to learn something of the history of this 
woman whom I love ? ' 

Margaret did not speak for some moments ; she looked 
at the letter in silence. Then she unfolded it, and said : 

' I am glad you let me read this letter for myself, James ' 
(she had dropped into the habit of calling him by his name) ; 
' there are some hard things in it, but they are true — and 
so, better spoken, no matter how hard they may be. But 
let us pass them over, they are said of the dead.' 

Her face hardened, and she turned it away from him. 
James Dugdale laid his thin hand on her arm. 

' Margaret,' he said, ' you know I would not have given 



106 A PJGHTED WEONG. 

you that letter to grieve you. I was thinking so much of 
what Meredith says of himself and his son that I forgot the 
allusion to — ' 

'I know, I know,' she said hurriedly; 'don't say his name ; 
I never do.' 

The admission was a confidence. She was breaking down 
the barrier of reserve between them. She trusted him. She 
might come to like him yet. The friendship at least of the 
woman he loved might yet come to gild this man's lonely 
life. It would be much to him to know that she forgave 
him ; and there was something in her manner now so dif- 
ferent from anything that had ever been there formerly, that 
he began to hope she had really forgiven him. 

In his quiet life, James Dugdale had contrived to attain, 
with very little aid from experience, to a tolerable amount of 
comprehension of human nature, and he understood that 
Margaret's practically-enforced conviction, that he had been 
unerringly right in all he had suspected and predicted of the 
fate in store for her, in her marriage, had not made her more 
inclined to pardon the interference on his part which she 
had so bitterly resented. But this was all over now, he did 
not know why ; he felt it, he did not understand it. 

Was it that the natural elasticity of youth was asserting 
its power — that Margaret was regaining her spirits, was 
throwing off the burden of the past, and, with it, all the 
feelings which had obscured the brightness and injured the 
gentleness of her nature ? This was the most probable ex- 
planation ; if, indeed, there was any other, it did not present 
itself as an alternative to James Dugdale. While he was 
thinking thus, she began to speak again in a hurried tone : 

' I should like to tell you now, James, because I would 
rather not have to refer to the matter again, that I know 
how kind you were to me, and how right in everything you 



fools' paradise. 107 

said, and how hard you tried to save me. Yes, yes ; let me 
speak,' she went on, and tears, seldom seen in her eyes, stood 
in them now. ' I could not again ; let me speak now. You 
tried, James, I know ; but you could not succeed. It was 
from myself I needed to be saved. Never think that you 
could have done anything more than you did ; indeed you 
could not. Nothing could have saved me.' 

She was trembling now, even as the hand which he laid 
on hers, unnoticed, was trembling. Her lustrous eyes were 
wet, and the emotion in her face made it quite beautiful. 
James Dugdale did not attempt to speak ; he looked at her, 
and his heart was wrung with pity. 

' It had to be, James, and it is done with, as much as it 
ever can be in this world, in which there is no release from 
consequences of our own acts. And now ' — she raised her 
head, she released her hand, she was regaining her com- 
posure, the momentary expansion was past, as he felt, and he 
had learned nothing ! — ' let us talk of your friend, who was 
so kind to me, and retains so kind a recollection of me. 
What do you think of all he says ? ' 

' I think badly of it,' said James, as he leaned back on 
his couch again, and adopted the tone she had given to 
their conversation. 'I fear Robert Meredith is a bad boy.' 

' So do I,' said Margaret. ' I have seen him, though 
not often, and I never saw a boy — almost a child — whom I 
disliked so much. He is a handsome fellow, but selfish, 
heartless, and sly. His very cleverness was revolting to 
me, and I suspect the feeling of dislike between us was 
mutual ; he has an American-like precocity about him 
which I detest. His little brothers, rough colonial children 
as they are, are infinitely more to be liked than he is. Of 
course you must do as Mr Meredith asks you ; but if you 
will credit my judgment — and, all things considered, I am 



108 A RIGHTED WRONG. 

rather daring in asking you to do so — you will not under- 
take anything like personal charge of Robert Meredith.' 

' I will certainly take your advice in the matter, Mar- 
garet ; you knoiv the boy. I fancy I bad better urge 
Meredith to bring him to England himself, if it is deter- 
mined that he is to come. Tell me as much as you remem- 
ber about the boy, and all the family. I remember Mrs 
Meredith, a pretty, active, pert kind of girl — strong and 
saucy — a capital wife for him, I should think.' 

' I dare say,' Margaret answered carelessly ; ' I did not 
know much of her.' 

Then their conversation turned on the career and cir- 
cumstances of Hayes Meredith, with which this story has 
no concern. In aftertime James Dugdale remembered 
that day as one of the happiest of his life. They were 
quite uninterrupted until late in the evening. Mrs Car- 
teret had carried off to a dinner-party her reluctant hus- 
band, who would have infinitely preferred to superintend 
the dinner of a peculiarly fine spider — whose proceedings 
he was watching just then, and whose larder was largely 
provided with the last unwary flies of the expiring autumn. 

Margaret and James Dugdale dined alone. She was in 
good spirits on the occasion ; she had almost lost the pain- 
ful impression produced by Hayes Meredith's letter, by 
talking it over with James ; and between herself and him 
there reigned harmony and unreserve which had had no 
previous existence. James had never seen her look so 
nearly beautiful ; he had never seen her so kind, so gentle 
to him. 

The hours passed over him in a kind of trance-like spell 
of pleasure. Margaret talked as he had never imagined 
she could talk. He had soon recognized that her character 
was hardened and strengthened by the trials she had en- 



fools' paradise. 109 

dured ; but until this day he had not known that her intel- 
lect had grown and brightened in proportion. 

They read together Haldane's letters to his old friend, 
and Margaret found in them many a kiuclly mention of her. 
Her brother would know of her arrival in England at about 
this time. 

' Tou must promise to tell me what he says, James, if 
it is not something very disagreeable indeed.' 

And James promised. 

From that day Margaret was a less unhappy woman 
than before. The first effect produced on her by Mere- 
dith's letter returned when she weut to Davyntry, after Mr 
Baldwin's departure, and was more than ever warmly greeted 
by her friend. 

' I don't think I could bear Fitzwilliam's absence if I 
had not your society,' Lady Davyntry said to her; and, fond 
and flattering as the words were, there was, not in them, 
but in the mood in which she listened to them, something 
that hurt Margaret. 

The young widow's pride was for ever rebelling against 
the unshared knowledge of the experiences through which 
she had passed. Eleanor talked to her incessantly of her 
brother, of the Deane, of his occupations, his neighbours, 
and his popularity. The theme did not weary Margaret ; 
and Lady Davyntry accepted her unflagging attention as a 
delightful omen. 

' She misses him ; I am sure she misses him,' was her 
pleased mental comment. 

' I hardly expected Margaret to remain so long at Davyn- 
try to-day J said Mrs Carteret to James Dugdale, as the 
family party were assembled in the drawing-room at Cbay- 
leigh. 

James observed the emphasis, and replied : 



110 A EIGHTED WBONG„ 

' Indeed ; why not ? ' 

' Mr Baldwin is not there, you know, and I fancy he is 
the great attraction.' 

James made her no reply. He fully understood the 
spiteful animus of the observation, but he also admitted its 
terrible probability ; not in the present — he did not take so 
superficial a view of Margaret's character as that would have 
implied — but a thrill of fear for the future came over him, 
troubling his Pools' Paradise. In a little while Margaret 
came in, looking as tranquil as usual, and, in her accustomed 
manner of placid, unalterable calm, — the bearing she always 
opposed to the masked battery of Mrs Carteret's insinua- 
tions and insolences, — answered the questions put to her. 

When James Dugdale was alone that night he took him- 
self to task, in no gentle manner. He knew he had nothing 
to expect beyond the unexpected boon of kindness and con- 
fidence she had already extended to him ; and yet the 
thought that another might again stand nearer to Margaret 
than he, struck him with an anguish almost as keen as the 
first torment had been. He had doubted that fate could 
bring him anything very hard to bear again, and here was a 
faint sickening indication that fate intended to resolve his 
doubt into a fatal certainty. 

But no : he would not think of it ; he would not let it 
near him ; it could not be. He knew he was weak in shrink- 
ing as he did, in striving to shut out anything that might 
possibly be true — and, therefore, ought to be faced — as he 
did ; but the weakness would have its way, like the fainting 
of the body, and, for the present time at least, he would put 
the apprehension from him. 

The days and the weeks passed by, and the external 
state of things remained unchanged at Chayleigh. Uninter- 
rupted friendship, and a certain degree of confidence, were 



fools' paradise. Ill 

maintained between Margaret and James. The health and 
spirits of the young widow improved ; her friendship with 
Lady Davyntry remained unimpaired. The correspondence 
between Eleanor and her brother* was frequent and lengthy, 
and the letters from the Deane were imparted with great 
frankness by the elder to the younger lady. They were 
vivid, amusing, and characteristic, and invariably included a 
message of cordial remembrance to the household at Chay- 
leigh. Peace of mind was prevalent among all the parties 
concerned in the little drame intiine with which we are deal- 
ing. 

Lady Davyntry's mind was at peace, because she saw 
that Margaret's interest in Mr Baldwin's report of his doings 
at the Deane did not flag ; and, as she said to herself, ' there 
was no one to interfere with his chances.' 

James Dugdale's mind was at peace, because Margaret 
seemed happier and calmer than he had ever again expected 
to see her ; and, as Mr Baldwin remained away, he was not 
to be feared ; and it was evident that the source of her re- 
newed content was to be found in her present sphere. 

Mrs Carteret's mind was at peace, because Margaret gave 
her no trouble, and kept herself so quiet, so completely aloof 
from ' the neighbourhood,' that that noun of moderate multi- 
tude, — having satisfied its curiosity by observing how Mr 
Carteret's daughter looked in her ' weeds,' was content to 
forget her existence, or ready to condole with Mrs Carteret 
upon her stepdaughter's strange unsociability, and to com- 
pliment the lady upon the contrast in that respect which 
they presented. 

Things had turned out so differently from Mrs Carteret's 
first apprehensive anticipations — she had been able to ex- 
ploiter Margaret so successfully ; her boasted intimacy at 
Davyntry had been so complacently indorsed by Lady 



112 A SIGHTED WEONG. 

Davyntry, who would have gone more directly against her 
conscience even than that to make Margaret's position at 
home easier — that Mrs Carteret had almost ceased to wish 
for Margaret's departure— had even thought casually that it 
would certainly looh better, and might possibly le better, if 
she could be induced to remain at her father's house. 

' Perhaps she may settle herself advantageously yet,' Mrs 
Carteret — whose ideas were eminently practical — said to her- 
self; and she even thought of consulting James as to 
whether she had not better suggest such a solution of the 
problem of the future to Margaret. 

Mr Carteret's mind was at peace, beceuse his mind had 
never been in any other condition since Godfrey Hunger- 
ford's death had restored it to ordinary equilibrium, and 
because his collections were getting on splendidly. 

"When Margaret Hungerford had been five months at 
Chayleigh — when the time was approaching which she had 
fixed upon as the period at which she would commence her 
career of labour and independence — when eleven months 
had elapsed since Godfrey Iiungerford's death — when the 
snows of February lay thick and white upon the earth — an 
event occurred which disturbed the calm of Chayleigh. 

Mrs Carteret distinguished herself in a most unexpected 
manner. She caught cold returning from one of the dull 
dinner-parties which her soul loved, and which no inclemency 
of weather, or domestic crisis which could be ignored with 
any decency, would have induced her to forego. A second 
dinner-party was to come off within three days ; so Mrs 
Carteret denied the existence of the cold, and attended that 
solemn festival. That day week she was dead. 



DAWNING. 113 



CHAPTEB XII. 

DAWNING. 

'Tod cannot conceive anything more perfect than the 
way Margaret is behaving,' wrote Lady Davyntry to her 
brother, when the first novelty and shock of Mrs Carteret's 
death had somewhat subsided, ' in this sad affair. Her con- 
duct to her father is most admirable. He, poor man, is in 
a wretched state — more, perhaps, of bewilderment than grief, 
but altogether unhinged. 

' " Master's put out terrible," was the account I had from 
one of the Chayleigh servants, and, odd and horrid as it 
sounds, I really think that is the best description of poor 
Mr Carteret's state of mind. Anything he is not used to 
"puts him out," and he is singularly little used to trouble 
or emotion of any kind. 

' He wanders about in a way distressing to behold, and 
cannot be induced to occupy himself. " There ain't no 
keeping him in the study," Poster said to me ; " and as 
much as stick a pin in a butterfly, Mr James nor Miss 
Margaret can't indoose him to do." 

' He seems to have lost all his taste for his specimens, 
but Margaret has hit upon a great idea for his relief and 
amusement. This is no other than to talk to her father 
about the interest which the poor woman who is gone took 
in his pursuits, and how much she would have regretted his 
abandonment of them. 

' There is a touch of pious fraud in this, for no one can 
possibly know better than Margaret that Mrs Carteret never 
took any interest in anything but herself, and was rather 



114 A RIGHTED WEONG. 

more indifferent to her husband's pursuits than to any other 
matters ; but the fraud is pious and successful. 

' I have just had a note from her telling me he is more 
cheerful, and has been watching her dusting specimens this 
morning. She also says — but, on second thoughts, I enclose 
the note. 

' With all this, my darling Madge has been very candid 
and sincere. She has felt the awfulness and the import of 
the event most deeply, but she has not pretended to a per- 
sonal sorrow which it is impossible she should feel, and I 
honour her for that — indeed, I honour her for everything, 
and love her better every day. 

' Mr Dugdale has taken Mrs Carteret's death to heart 
terribly. She was sincerely attached to him, I believe, and 
I fancy he was the only person in the world who loved her, 
while he managed her perfectly, and quite understood her 
queer disposition. I have seen very little of him, but Mar- 
garet has told me a good deal about him. 

' If you remember, we used to think that he and she did 
not get on well together — that she did not like him. "With 
all her reserve, Margaret is not difficult to understand ; she 
may keep facts to herself, but she does not disguise feelings, 
and I am glad to think she and Mr Dugdale get on nicely 
now that they are in such responsible charge at Chayleigh. 

' If my letter bores you, my dear Fitz, I really cannot 
help it, for my head and my heart are both full of Margaret. 
The Martleys and Porbeses sent a strong contingent down 
to the funeral, and two of the Martleys stayed a week : very 
handsome young men, not in the least like their sister, who 
was very much older. 

' I could not help thinking how vexed the poor woman 
would have been if she could have seen Henry Martley so 
captivated by her stepdaughter. He fell in love with Mar- 



DAWNING. 115 

garet with quite old-fashioned celerity, but she calmly ignored 
him and his love. Mr Dugdale saw it plainly, and did not 
like it by any means. They have all had enough of the 
Hartleys, I fancy. 

' The young men took their sister's death very easily ; 
the eldest was evidently glad to get away ; and I cannot be 
very much surprised or very angry. This event will make 
a great difference to Margaret. I have always had a pre- 
sentiment — I have, however you may laugh — that she would 
not have to leave Chayleigh. Of course, she cannot think 
of doing so now ; she must remain with her father. 

' Captain Carteret is on his way home. Mr Dugdale 
came here yesterday with Margaret for the first time. I 
believe something was said about his leaving Chayleigh and 
going back to Oxford, but Mr Carteret would not hear of 
it ; he clings to Mr Dugdale more even than to Margaret. 
So they will settle down together, no doubt. It is a good 
thing Captain Carteret was not here sooner ; the gloom will 
have pretty well dispersed before he comes. 

' Your account of the Deane is delightful. I think you 
are quite right not to refurnish the drawing-rooms just yet. 
Perhaps I might screw up my courage to going there in 
summer, and then I could choose colours, and so on, for you. 
Tou do not really want drawing-rooms at present, and I 
should not mind anything of the kind if I were you. Tou 
may not remain at the Deane long. Indeed, I hope you are 
thinking of coming back to me ; I want to consult you 
about such a lot of things; and I hate letter- writing, and 
explain myself so badly.' 

For a lady who hated letter-writing, Lady Davyntry in- 
dulged in it a good deal ; and, with singular self-denial, de- 
voted herself to keeping her brother thoroughly well-informed 
concerning affairs in the neighbourhood. 



116 A EIGHTED WRONG. 

She would, priding herself on her astuteness and believ- 
ing herself inscrutably clever in the performance, send him 
pages of gossiping details about other people than the 
dwellers at Chayleigh ; she would tell him about the Croffcons, 
the Crokers, and the Willises, about friends in town and 
friends in foreign parts, whenever it appeared to her that her 
insistence upon Chayleigh was becoming too marked. 

By such artful do4ges did she seek to divert Mr Bald- 
win's suspicions that she cherished the profound design of 
marrying him to her friend. 

Her brother, on hi.3 part, carefully forbore to point out 
the inconsistency between her dislike of letter-writing and 
the frequency of her correspondence. He understood the 
guileless and amiable Eleanor thoroughly, and smiled over 
her letters as he thought how charmingly transparent the 
artifice was, and how easily he could haTe disposed of it all, 
had it not precisely coincided with his own wishes. 

Time hung heavily on Mr Baldwin's hands in the midst 
of his great possessions, and in the presence of his popularity 
with an assiduous neighbourhood. He had set his heart, he 
was ready to stake his whole future, upon winning the 
wearied heart of the pale-faced girl who had brought some- 
thing into his life which had never been there before, and 
the hours and days lingered until the time should come 
which he had set before himself as fitting for the at- 
tempt. 

Her first year of widowhood would soon have elapsed, 
and then he might, without offence, tell her that he loved 
her. So he named that time, in his own mind, for his return 
to Davyntry. 

When Mrs Carteret's death occurred, Mr Baldwin did 
not alter his plan. The change in Margaret's prospects, the 
necessity for her remaining with her father, the fact that 



DAWNING. 117 

her sphere of duty was strictly defined now, gave him no 
uneasiness. 

He would never ask her to leave her father. He knew 
Mr Carteret well. It did not take much time or pains to 
acquire that knowledge, and he knew he had no strong at- 
tachment to Chayleigh. If he could but persuade Margaret 
to come and reign at the Deane, he had no doubt her father 
would readily go there too. 

He had a conviction, which, after all, was not presumptu- 
ous for a man of his fortune and station to entertain, that in 
Margaret's brother he should find a friend. James Dugdale 
had told him a little of the family history — had given him a 
vague notion of the part Haldane had taken in the circum- 
stances which had led to Margaret's disastrous marriage ; 
and he felt that the young man would naturally rejoice that 
such a total change should be wrought in the life of his sister, 
who had paid so dearly for her imprudence. 

A man of peculiarly simple tastes and habits, of unaf- 
fected ways of thinking about himself and other people, it 
rarely occurred to Eitzwilliam Baldwin to take his wealth 
into account ; but he did so now, very reasonably. ' It 
would not weigh with her for a minute,' he thought ; ' but 
it will with them, and it will be pleasant to have them all 
for, and not against, me.' 

Life at Chayleigh had settled down again. The delusive 
appearance of immutability which human affairs assume — 
human affairs which are but a shifting quicksand — had 
established itself. The establishment, presided over by Mar- 
garet, went on in the ordinary way, the servants highly ap- 
preciating the change of regime ; and Mr Carteret was be- 
ginning to dispose of the days after his old fashion, when 
Mr Baldwin returned to Davyntry, and Haldane Carteret 
arrived at Chayleigh. 



118 A RIGHTED WRONG. 

The meeting between the brother and sister was frankly 
affectionate ; the renewal of their companionship was de- 
lightful to both. Margaret thought her brother wonderfully 
improved. He was a handsome, manly, soldierly fellow, 
who had no trace of likeness to his gentle, studious, feeble 
father, but whose face, despite its bronzed skin and its thick 
dark moustache, awakened strange memories in Mr Car- 
teret's placid breast. 

A curious mental phenomenon took place in the experi- 
ence of Haldane's father. A little while ago, and he was 
fretting for Mrs Carteret — if he had said he was wretchedly 
uncomfortable it would have been a more correct description 
of his state of mind ; but he chose to call himself, to himself, 
profoundly miserable — and now, since Haldane came home, 
he had almost forgotten her. 

True, he still sat mopingly in his chair, and stared 
vacantly out of the window, when they left him alone ; but 
the reverie which filled those hours was no longer what it 
had been. "With his son in his bright strong manhood, with 
his daughter in her womanhood — early shadowed, indeed, 
but beautiful — beside him, his heart turned to the past, and 
a gentle figure, a fair delicate face, long since turned to dust, 
kept him ghostly company in his solitude. 

Margaret was much surprised when, shortly after Hal- 
dane's return, Mr Carteret began to talk to her one day 
about her mother, and spoke of her with a cheerful freshness 
of remembrance which she had never supposed him to en- 
tertain. 

'The colours she preferred, the books she liked, the 
places they had visited together, certain fancies she had in 
her illness — the smallest things, I assure you — is it not 
wonderful ? ' Margaret had asked of Lady Davyntry, as she 
was telling her this strange circumstance. ' I never was 



DAWNING. 119 

more surprised, and, I need not say, delighted ; I don't 
think poor Mrs Carteret's fancies and sayings remain so fresh 
in his memory. After so many years, too ! The fact is, I 
don't believe she ever really filled my mother's place at all.' 

Margaret was seated on a cushion in the bay of a great 
■window in the drawing-room at Davyntry as she spoke thus. 
Her heavy bonnet and veil were thrown on the floor beside 
her, her pale, clear, speaking face, the eyes bright and humid, 
the lips parted eagerly, and the flickering light, which 
emotion always diffused over her face, playing on her features. 
Lady Davyntry stood in the window, and looked down up- 
on her. 

' I am sure she never did,' said the impulsive Eleanor ; 
* how could she ? It is all very well for a man to marry again, 
as your father did, when he has little children, and no one 
but servants to look after them ; but, of course, a second 
marriage never can be the same thing. All the romance of 
life is over, you know, and one knows how much fancy there 
is in everything ; and, in fact, I can't understand it myself 
— not for a woman, I mean, who has been happy. A man 
is different.' 

And then Lady Davyntry suddenly discovered that, in 
proclaiming ber general opinion, she was saying exactly the 
opposite to what she thought in the particular case in which 
she was most deeply interested, and stopped, very abruptly 
and awkwardly, and blushing painfully. But Margaret did 
not seem to perceive her embarrassment. Her hands were 
pressed together ; her eyes looked out strangely, eagerly ; 
her words came as though she had no control of them. 

'And do you think an unhappy woman — one who has 
found nothing in her marriage but misery and degradation 
— one who has nothing of the dreams and fancies of her 
youth left for retrospection but sickening deceit and a horri- 



120 A RIGHTED WRONG. 

ble cheating self-delusion — one who has no good, or pure, or 
gentle, or upright recollections to cherish of a past which, 
was all a lie, a base, infamous lie — do you think a woman 
with a story like that in her life ought to marry again ? Do 
you think— you, Eleanor, who are truth and honour them- 
selves, and who, I suppose, in all your life never said, or did, 
or saw, or heard anything for which you have a right to 
blush or ought to wish to forget — do you think that a wo- 
man with a story like that in her life ought to marry? Do 
you think she ought to link her life to that of any man, 
however he might love her and pity her, and be prepared 
to bear with her, while she had to look back upon such a 
past, however guiltless she might be in it — do you think 
this, Eleanor? Tell me plainly the truth.' 

She put her hand up, and caught one of her friend's 
hands in hers. Lady Davyntry still stood and looked at her, 
and, laying her disengaged hand on her shoulder, answered 
her passionate question. 

' Do I ? Indeed I do, Margaret. Tell me, are you ask- 
ing me this for yourself ? Are you asking me if I think, 
because you have had the least-deserved misfortune to have 
been the wife of a bad man, and you have been released 
from him, you are to carry the chain in fancy which has been 
taken off you in reality ? It's unlike you ; it is morbid to- 
ask, to think of such a thing. What are you but a young 
girl still ? Are you to do penance all your life for the sins 
of another ? No, no, Margaret ; silent as you are about 
your past, you are asking me this question in reference to 
yourself. Is it not so ? Do not place a half-confidence in 
me. Do not let a delusion like this take possession of your 
mind, and blight your future as your past has been blighted.' 

' There is nothing in my question,' said Margaret, drawing 
her hand away from Lady Davyntry, and rising ; ' nothing 



DAWNING. 121 

in the sense you mean. My future seems plain and clear 
enough now. My place in tho world is fixed, I fancy ; but 
sometimes, Eleanor, sometimes the past, of which I have 
never spoken to you, of which I cannot speak, comes back 
to me, not only in its own dreadful shape, but with a dim 
undefined threat in it, and makes me afraid. Tou don't 
understand me ; well for you that you do not. I trust you 
never may.' 

She picked up her bonnet and tied it on, and was fold- 
ing her shawl round her, while Lady Davyntry stood by, 
longing to speak out all that was in her mind, and yet 
fearing to damage her own hopes by doing so and learning 
the worst, when the door opened, and Haldane Carteret 
and Mr Baldwin came into the room. 

Margaret was standing with her back towards the door, 
and facing a mirror, in which Lady Davyntry saw her face 
reflected. It was startlingly pale, and there was a wild 
look of pain in the eyes, quite other than sadness — some- 
times a little stern — which was their usual expression. 

Lady Davyntry could hardly reply to the cheery greeting 
of Haldane, so much was she struck by Margaret's change 
of countenance. Margaret spoke hurriedly to Mr Baldwin. 
The only one of the four who did not know that there was 
a consciousness on the part of all the others that something 
unusual had taken place was Haldane. 

' I have come to fetch you home, Madge,' he said, ' and 
then I'm going out for a ride with Baldwin, and we dine 
with the Croftons, so you won't see much of me to-day. 
Are you ready ? ' 

' Quite ready,' said Margaret ; and she kissed Lady 
Davyntry, and took so hurried a leave of her that her friend 
had not time to ask her a question. She was about to give 
Mr Baldwin her hand, and bid him good-bye too, but he 



122 A RIGHTED WRONG. 

said he was going their way — his horses might be taken to 
Chayleigh. 

"When she was left alone, Lady Davyntry tried to dis- 
entangle her impressions of what had occurred. At last 
she thought she saw the meaning of it all. Margaret had 
found out Mr Baldwin's not-carefully-preserved secret, even 
as she (Eleanor) had found it out, and she loved him. Yes, 
his sister was sure of it. She had all the acuteness which 
keen feeling and true sympathy give, and which is truer in 
emergencies than that of mere intellectual cleverness, and she 
knew that a sharp and severe struggle was raging in the young 
widow's heart. 

She understood it all now — she understood that Mar- 
garet shrank from the avowal to herself that she had learned 
to love and trust again, that she had not been able to carry 
out the expiatory process which she had resolved — the 
process of loneliness and labour, of self-repression, and the 
abnegation of the true happiness to be had even in this 
world, because she had been beguiled by the false. She 
understood that Margaret, however believing and trusting 
in Fitzwilliam Baldwin's love, would feel that there was no 
equality between them, and that the serene and beautiful 
fancies of a happy girl were not for her, while all the 
illusion and gladness of life's early days still were his. In- 
tuitively Lady Davyntry understood it all ; the face she had 
seen in the glass, when her brother's entrance had surprised 
Margaret in one of her rare moments of emotion, had made 
it all plain to her. 

' She will refuse him,' Eleanor thought ; ' she will refuse 
him. These two, the most suited to one another, the best 
calculated to be happy of any people I ever knew — the very 
ideal of a well-matched pair — will be kept apart by a chim- 
era. So the evil of that vile man's life lives after him and 



DAWNING. 123 

ho lias the power to make her and others miserable, though 
he is in his grave. Shall I speak openly to Fitzwilliam ? I 
cannot do harm now. No man could be more bent upon 
anything than he is on marrying Margaret. I may as well 
let him know — if, indeed, he has not guessed it — how much 
I wish it too.' 

Lady Davyntry's nature, like her brother's, was essentially 
sunny and cheerful ; so she soon roused herself from the de- 
pression her discovery had caused her. 

' If she does refuse him,' thought Eleanor, after long 
cogitating with herself, ' she cannot refuse to tell him why. 
She is too sincere — she will not deny that she loves him, and 
then she will be persuaded out of this morbid fancy by 
degrees. After all, it will only be a case of waiting. I 
must have patience, and Eitzwilliam must have patience too. 
Margaret is worth waiting for. I shall see her at the 
Deane yet.' 

It was a source of great satisfaction to Lady Davyntry 
to remember that Margaret was settled at Chayleigh, that 
Mr Baldwin need not fear her removal — that, in fact, he had 
every external advantage on his side. 

' How strangely things happen ! ' she thought. ' Really, 
it seems as if that poor woman's death were quite providential. 
If she had lived I don't see how Margaret could have 
possibly stayed at Chayleigh ; and now she cannot get away. 
Even if she had remained, she could not have been in such 
a pleasant and independent position.' 

And then Lady Davyntry, who possessed in perfection 
the fine feminine facility for looking at every subject from 
exclusively her own point of view, came to the comfortable 
conclusion that poor Mrs Carteret's death was ' all for the 
best.' 

Haldane Carteret retained all his boyish aifection for 



12-i A RIGHTED WEOKG. 

James Dugdale. His old tutor loved him, too, better than 
any one in the world save Margaret ; and the young man's 
sojourn at home was a bright spot in the life of the older 
man, whose life had in it very little brightness. All that 
James knew of Margaret's story he had told Haldane by 
letter, and now the subject was but rarely revived between 
them. 

Haldane was not a very acute observer. He rarely 
troubled himself with the reflective part of life; he had 
bright animal spirits, good health, and was now of an active 
temperament very different from the promise of his boyhood. 
The experiment of letting him follow his military inclina- 
tions had turned out admirably. His father was very fond 
of him, very proud of him, and kept out of his way as 
much as possible. His presence had the best possible effect 
on Margaret, who was beginning to bloom again, not only 
with the roses, but with the spirits of her girlish days. 

Haldane was immensely delighted with Mr Baldwin. It 
was a new experience to him that a man of such large 
fortune, such assured position, such high intellectual attain- 
ments, still young and flattered by the world, should be of 
so unworldly a spirit, so pure of heart and life, and so en- 
tirely unassuming. In modern parlance, Mr Baldwin was 
an undeniable ' swell,' but he never seemed to remember the 
circumstance except when an act of generosity, or the exer- 
cise of privilege in the cause of good, was required. 

' I'll tell you what, Dugdale,' Haldane Carteret said to 
his old friend as they strolled together in the fields by the 
clump of beeches which Margaret had said she hated, ' there 
are not many such fellows going as Baldwin ! ' 

James Dugdale heartily concurred in his companion's 
estimate of Baldwin. 

' Knocking about the world teaches a fellow to appre- 



DAWNING. 125 

ciate a man like that,' continued Haldane. ' It's very strange 
to remember how one has been taken in by people. There 
■was that ruffian Hungerford, for instance. By-tbe-by,' — 
and Haldane stood still, and looked into James's face to 
make his words more emphatic,—' I think Baldwin is un- 
commonly attentive to Madge, don't you ? ' 

' N — no,' said James hesitatingly ; ' I can't say I noticed 
anything of the kind.' 

' Look out, then, and you will notice it. Tou're not an 
observing person, you know- — not a lady's man exactly — 
neither am I ; but I think I know the symptoms of that 
sort of thing when I see them ; and I don't think Baldwin 
is staying at Davyntry altogether on account of his sister. 
I say, James, wbat a grand thing it would be, wouldn't it ?' 

' What a grand thing what would be ? ' asked Dugdale 
in an impatient tone. 

' If Madge likes him, and he likes her, and they make a 
match of it. It would be a fine marriage for any girl, and 
it would be a great thing to have all the past put out of her 
mind. Fate owes her a good turn, poor girl ! ' 

And James ? Did not Fate owe him a good turn ? If 
so, he thought sadly, the debt was not likely to be paid. 
The change in Margaret's manner the increased frankness, 
the ready kindness she showed him now, had ceased to 
bring him any happiness. He did not deceive himself now 
as to its source. 

He was nothing more to her than he had ever been; but, 
instead of the old bitterness, a root of sweetness was 
springing up in her heart, and its natural outcome was the 
oblivion of her former feelings, the remission of all past 
and gone offences from those who would but be doubly in- 
different to her under the influence of this new motive in 
her life. 



126 A EIGHTED WRONG. 

For a time James Dugdale yielded to the weakness 
which this new keen suffering produced. He felt that life 
had been always bitter for him — there was no mercy, no 
gentleness in it at all. 

"When he looked at Margaret and noted the change in 
her face — saw how the light had come back into the eyes, the 
roundness to the clear pale cheeks, the softness to the 
square brow and the small lips, and interpreted the change 
aright, notwithstanding the fits of heavy sadness which still 
came over her — he would feel very tired of life. Impossi- 
ble not to envy the lot which was never to be his — the 
destiny of those who are dowered with love. 

Never to be, never to have been, the first object in life 
to any one is a melancholy fate, he would think — one for 
which no general affection, or appreciation, not even the 
most intoxicating gift of fame, could ever compensate. 

This was bis lot, and he knew it, and did not attempt to 
persuade himself that it was not very hard and bitter to 
submit to. After a time he should be able to look at the 
matter from the unselfish point of view of Margaret's happi- 
ness ; but not yet. He had never quite realized the nature 
and extent of his own fears, until Haldane's words had put 
the truth before him in the airy and cheerful manner re- 
lated. Of course he was right ; of course it would be a 
' great match,' and a ' fine thing ; ' of course it would be the 
most complete reparation of all that Pate had wrought 
against Margaret —the most total reverse of her life which 
could be devised. 

The love of such a man— as James, rigidly just in all his 
pain, acknowledged Fitzwilliam Baldwin to be — had in 
itself such elements of dignity and honour, such power of 
rehabilitation for the wounded spirit of the woman he loved 
that it was an act of utter oblivion. 



DAWNING. 127 

From the unassailable height of her position, as Mr 
Baldwin's wife, Margaret might look down upon the pigmy 
cares of coarse remark and prying curiosity, as on all the 
sordid and common anxieties of material life from which she 
had once suffered so keenly. 

He knew all this — he who would, he believed, have suf- 
fered anything in the cause of her welfare. Yes, and so he 
would, anything but just the thing he was appointed to 
suffer ; and he could not bring himself to bear it, not yet. 
He forgot how he had acknowledged, when she returned to 
Chayleigh, that she could not continue to live there, that the 
dead level of life there would be intolerable to her who had 
breathed the atmosphere of storm and been tossed on the 
waves of trouble. She was too young to find refuge in calm ; 
the peace which is the paradise of age which has suffered, is 
the prison of suffering youth. 

He knew all this, and yet he murmured against the 
destiny that was going to release her, without penalty or 
price — that was going to crown her life with happiness. 
He murmured, he revolted, he raged ; and then he submitted, 
as we all must, to everything. 

Erom this state of feeling to an intense longing to know 
the truth, to have it all over and done with — to be quite 
certain that Margaret had put the old life from her, and with 
it all the ties which existed between her and him ; that she 
was going into a sphere in which he could have no place — 
was a natural transition for James Dugdale's feverish, 
sensitive temperament. 

He watched Margaret and her friend ; he understood 
Lady Davyntry's feelings perfectly, and owed her no grudge 
for them ; he rather honoured her as more large-minded 
and disinterested than most women. Of course she 
coveted such a prize as Margaret for her brother. To 



128 A RIGHTED WRONG. 

the rich, treasures, was the judgment and the way of the 
world. 

He watched Margaret and her lover. Yes, her lover- 
he forced himself to give him that kingly title in his thoughts, 
and he thought, he knew, he hoped it might soon come — 
that suspense, at least, would be over, and nothing would 
remain for him but to accustom himself to the new order 
of things. 

Full of these thoughts, he sought Margaret, one beautiful 
day in May, in the pleasaunce. He had seen her walking 
on the lawn. She had exchanged a few sentences with him 
as she passed the windows of Mr Carteret's study, where 
James was sitting, and he had promised to join her presently, 
when her father released him. He was anxious to tell her 
that he had heard again from Hayes Meredith. When he 
joined her he held a letter in his hand. 

' Papa has been bothering you about those dreadful bats, 
hasn't he, James? ' asked ' Margaret with a smile; ' I will 
take my turn at them this afternoon.' 

' Oh no,' he said ; ' but I wanted to see you before you 
went out, because I have a letter from Melbourne.' 

She changed colour slightly, and glanced nervously at the 
letter. 

' It is very short. Meredith merely says he cannot 
come to England, or send his son for some time — not for a 
year, indeed. There is a money difficulty out there, and 
Mrs Meredith is in delicate health.' 

' Indeed ! I am sorry for that. So master Eobert must 
put up with colonial life for a little longer.' 

' Yes,' replied James ; ' and I am not sorry. The longer 
my responsibility as regards that young gentleman is deferred 
the better. Still, I should like to see Meredith. Shouldn't 
you, Margaret 'i ' 



DAWNING. 129 

' No,' she said quickly, and in a tone of decision, ' I 
should not, James. Not because I am ungrateful — no, 
indeed — but because anything, any one connected with that 
dreadful time I would shun by any lawful means. You 
don't know how I dread any mention of it, how I shrink 
from any thought of it. You don't — you can't — it is like 
a curse from which I never can escape. If — she continued 
vehemently — ' if Hayes Meredith came into this house, if 
any one from that place came, I should feel it was an evil 
omen — I should be sure it could only be to bring me misery. 
Very superstitious, very wrong, very weak, — is it not, 
James ? — I know ; but it is perfectly true, and stronger 
than I — 

She shuddered as she spoke, and was quite pale now. 

James looked at her in agitated surprise, and put the 
letter, which she had made no motion to take from him, 
into his pocket. 

At that moment the footman approached them, coming 
from the house. 

James glanced at Margaret's white face and tearful eyes, 
and went forward to intercept the servant before he should 
be near enough to discover them also. 

' A letter from Davyntry, for Mrs Hungerford, sir,' said 
the man. 

' Is there any answer required ? ' 

' 1 don't know, sir.' 

James brought the letter— a very thick one — to Mar- 
garet. 

' Just open this,' he said, ' and see if there's an answer.' 

She broke the seal of the envelope, which was directed 
in Lady Davyntry's hand, and drew out, not a letter from 
her friend, but a second sealed envelope, with her name upon 
it. The writing was well known to her ; it was Mr Baldwin's. 

9 



130 A EIGHTED WEONG. 

The outer cover fell to the ground, as she stood with the 
enclosure in her hand, James looking at her and at it. 

' There's — there's no answer,' she said. She had not made 
the slightest attempt to open the missive. 

James Dugdale delivered the message to the servant, 
who went back to the house, and then he turned away down 
another path and struck into the fields. 



CIIAPTEB XIII. 

DAT. 



It will probably be entirely unnecessary to inform the 
intelligent reader what was the nature of the contents of the 
letter which James Dugdale had handed to Mrs Hungerford. 
Retrospect, present knowledge, or anticipation will convey 
a sufficiently accurate perception of it to all the readers of 
this story. 

The writing of that letter was the result of a long and 
entirely unreserved conversation which had taken place be- 
tween Lady Davyntry and her brother, after the last-recorded 
interview between the former and Margaret. 

So entirely confident was Eleanor of Mr Baldwin's feel- 
ings and intentions, that she no longer hesitated to speak to 
him on the matter nearest her heart from any apprehension 
of defeating her own purpose by precipitation. 

In the doubts and fears, in the passionate and painful 
burst of reminiscence which had given her added insight into 
Margaret's nature, Lady Davyntry had seen, far more plainly 
than Margaret, — or at least than ever she had confessed to 
herself, — that a new love, a fresh hope, had come to her. 
The very strife of feeling which she confessed and described 



DAT. 131 

betrayed her to the older woman, whose wisdom, though 
rather of the heart than of the understanding, was true in 
this case 

' It will never do to let her brood over this sort of thing,' 
said Lady Davyntry to herself with decision. ' The more 
time she has to think over it, the more danger there is of her 
working herself up into a morbid state of mind, persuading 
herself that she ought to sacrifice her own happiness, and 
make Fitz wretched, because she had the misfortune to be 
married to a villain, and associated, through him, with some 
very bad people — the more she will tax her memory and tor- 
ture her feelings, by trying to recall and realize all the past. 
I can see that nature and her youth are helping her to for- 
get it all, and would do so, no doubt, if Fitz never existed ; 
but she is trying to resist the influence of nature, and to 
train herself to a state of mind which is simply ruinous and 
absurd.' 

So Lady Davyntry spoke to her brother that evening, 
and had the satisfaction of finding that she had acted wisely 
in so doing. ' Don't speak to her, Fitz,' she said, towards 
the couclusion of their conversation ; ' don't give her the 
chance of being impelled by such feelings as she has acknow- 
ledged to me, to say no, — let her have time to think about it.' 

It was a position in which few men would have failed to 
look silly, that of talking over a love affair, in the ante-pro- 
posal stage, with a sister. But Mr Baldwin was one of those 
men who never can be made to look silly, who have about 
them an inborn dignity and entire singleness of purpose 
which are effectual preservatives against the faintest touch 
of the ridiculous in their words or actions. 

He had spoken frankly of his hopes, and of his grounds 
for entertaining them, but the account his sister gave of 
Margaret's state of mind troubled him sorely. Here Lady 



132 A RIGHTED WRONG, 

Davyntry again proved her possession of sounder sense than 
many who knew her only slightly would have believed she 
possessed. 

' It won't last/ she assured her brother ; ' it is a false, 
phantasmal state of feeling, and though it might grow more 
and more strong if nothing were opposed to it, it will dis- 
appear before a true and powerful feeling — rely upon it she 
will wonder at herself some day, and be hardly able to realize 
that she ever gave way to this sort of thing.' 

Mr Baldwin wrote the letter, the answer to which was 
to mean so much to him ; and Lady Davyntry enclosed it in 
a cover directed by herself. 

' I don't think my darling Margaret can have much 
doubt about how I should regard this affair,' she said, as she 
sealed the envelope with such a lavish use of sealing-wax in 
the enthusiasm of the moment, that it swelled up all round 
the seal like liliputian piecrust; ' but whatever she may have 
teased herself with fancying, she will know it is all right 
when she sees that I enclose your letter. Some women 
might take it into their heads to be annoyed because you 
had spoken to another person of your feelings ; but Mar- 
garet is too high-minded for anything of that sort, and, rely 
upon it, sbe will be none the less happy, if she promises to 
become your wife, that she will make me as happy in pro- 
portion as yourself by the promise.' 

At this stage, the impulsive Eleanor gave vent to her 
emotion by hugging her brother heartily, and accompanying 
the embrace with a shower of tears. 

Margaret remained where James Dugdale had left her 
standing with Mr Baldwin's letter in her hand. She did not 
break the seal, she did not move, for several minutes, — then 
she picked up Lady Davyntry's envelope, which had fluttered 
to the ground, and went into the house. 



DAY. 133 

Any one not so innocently absent-minded as Mr Car- 
teret, or so cheerfully full of harmless self-content of youth, 
health, and unaccustomed leisure as Haldane Carteret, could 
hardly have failed to notice that there was something strange 
in the looks and manner of two of the little party who sat 
down that day to the dinner table at Chayleigh, shorn of much 
of its formality since Mrs Carteret had ceased to preside 
over it. 

Margaret was paler than usual, but not with the pallor of 
ill-health — the clear skin had no sallowness in its tint. 

To one accustomed to read the countenance which had 
acquired of late so much new expression, and such a soften- 
ing of the old one, the indication of strong emotion would 
have been plain, in the pale cheek, the lustrous, downcast 
eye, the occasional trembling of the small lips, the absent, 
preoccupied gaze, the sudden recall of her attention to the 
present scene, the forced smile when her father spoke to her, 
and the unusual absence of interest ;tnd pleasure in Haldane's 
jokes, which were sometimes good, but always numerous. 

James Dugdale sat at the table, quite silent, and did not 
even make any attempt to eat. Margaret, with the superior 
powers of hypocrisy observable in the female, affected, unne- 
cessarily, to have a very good appetite. The meal was a 
painful probation for them. 

It was so far from unusual for James to be ill and de- 
pressed, that when Haldane had commented upon his silence 
and his want of appetite in his usual off-hand fashion, and 
Mr Carteret had lamented those misfortunes, and digressed 
into speculation whetheu James had not better have his din- 
ner just before going to bed, because wild beasts gorge 
themselves with food, and go to sleep immediately afterwards, 
no further notice was taken. 

It never occurred to Mr Carteret or to Haldane that 



134 A RIGHTED WRONG. 

anything except illness could ail James. Neither did it oc- 
cur to one or the other to notice that Margaret, usually so 
observant of James, so kind in her attention to him, so sym- 
pathetic, who understood his ' good days ' and his ' bad days ' 
so well, did not make the slightest remark herself, and suf- 
fered theirs to pass without comment. 

She never once addressed James during dinner, nor did 
her glance encounter his. Why ? 

It had been Margaret's custom of late to sit with her 
father in his study during the evening. Mr Carteret and 
she would adjourn thither immediately after dinner, and 
James and Haldane usually joined them after a while. 

Margaret did not depart from her usual practice on this 
particular evening, but she was not inclined to talk to her 
father. She settled him into his particular chair, in his in- 
evitable corner, and began to read aloud to him, with more 
than her usual promptness. 

But somehow the reading was not successful, her voice 
was busky and uncertain, and her inattention so obvious 
that it soon became infectious, and Mr Carteret found the 
effort of listening beyond him. An unusually prolonged 
and unmistakeable yawn, for which he hastened to apologize, 
made the fact evident to Margaret. 

' I think we are both disinclined for reading to-night, 
papa,' she said as she laid aside her book, and took a low 
seat by her father's side. ' "We will talk now for a -while.' 

' Very well, my dear,' said the acquiescent Mr Carteret. 
But Margaret did not seem inclined to follow up her own 
proposition actively She sat still, dreamily silent, and her 
fingers played idly with the fringe which bordered the chintz 
cover of her father's chair. At length she said : 

' Papa, what do you think of Mr Baldwin ? ' 

' What do I think of Mr Baldwin, my dear ? ' repeated 



DAY. 135 

Mr Carteret slowly ' I think very highly of him indeed : a 
most accomplished young man I consider him, and excess- 
ively ohliging, I'm sure. I don't natter myself, you know, 
Margaret, with any notion that I am a particularly delight- 
ful companion for any one ; indeed, since our great loss, I 
am best alone I think, or with you— with you, my dear,' and 
her father patted Margaret's head just as he had been used 
to pat it when she was a little child ; ' and still, he seems to 
like being with me, and takes the greatest interest in my 
collection Excessively liberal he is, too, and I can assure 
you very few collectors, however rich they may be, are that. 
He has shared his magnificent specimens of lepidoptera with 
me, and I have not another friend in the world who would 
do that. Think of him r ' said Mr Carteret again, return- 
ing to Margaret's question. ' I think most highly of him. 
Bat why do you ask me ? Don't you think well of him 
yourself? ' 

Margaret looked up hastily, dropped her eyes again, and 
said: 

' Oh yes, papa ; I — I do, indeed ; but I wanted to ask you, 

because ' A quick tapping at the window interrupted 

her. Haldane stood outside, and his sister left her seat and 
went to him. 

' Come out for a walk, Madge,' he said. ' James is queer 
this evening, and says he will just give the governor half-an- 
hour, and then go to bed. Tou don't want them both, do 
you, sir ? ' Haldane asked the question with his head inside 
and his body outside the window. ' I thought not. Here's 
James now.' At that moment Mr Dugdale entered the 
room. ' Come on ; you can get your bonnet and shawl ; 
the door is open.' 

Margaret had not turned her face from the window, and 
she now stepped out into the verandah. She had not seen 



136 A RIGHTED WRONG. 

the expression on James Dugdale's face. Instinct caused 
her to avoid him. She had not yet faced the subject in her 
own mind, she had not yet reckoned with herself about it. 

' Has she written to him ? Is he coming here ? How- 
is it ? ' 

These were the questions which repeated themselves in 
James's brain as he tried to talk to Mr Carteret, and tried 
not to follow the footsteps of the woman whose way was 
daily deviating more and more widely from his. 

The brother and sister walked down the terrace and into 
the pleasaunce together. 

Haldane had been exposed to the fascinations of the eldest 
Miss Crofton for the last ten days or so, and, being rather 
defenceless under such circumstances, though not, as he said 
of himself, ' a lady's man,' he was very likely to capitulate, 
unless some providential occurrence furnished him with a 
change of occupation, and thus diverted his mind. 

At present the eldest Miss Crofton — her papa, her 
mamma, her little brother, a wonderfully clever child, and 
particularly fond of being ' taken round the lawn' on Hal- 
dane' s horse, with only Haldane on one side and his sister on 
the other to hold him on — her housekeeping science, and her 
equestrian feats, afforded Haldane topics of conversation of 
which Margaret showed no weariness. Her attention cer- 
tainly did wander a little, but Haldane did not perceive it. 

They had passed through the gate into the fields which 
bordered on Davyntry, and Haldane had just pleaded for a 
little more time out, the evening was so beautiful — adding 
his conviction that every woman in the world was greedy 
about her tea, and that Margaret would not be half so palo 
if she drank less of that pernicious decoction — when she 
started so violently that he could not fail to perceive it. 

' What's the matter ? ' he asked, in surprise. 



PULL COMPENSATION. 137 

' Nothing,' said Margaret. ' There's — there's some one 
coming.' 

' So there is,' said Haldane, looking at a figure advancing 
quickly towards them from the direction of Davyntry ; ' and 
it is Baldwin.' 

The blood rushed violently into Margaret's cheeks, her 
feet were rooted to the ground for a moment, as she felt the 
whole scene around her grow indistinct ; the next, she was 
meeting Mr Baldwin with composure which far surpassed 
his own, and in the first glance of her candid eyes, which 
looked up at him shyly, but entirely with their owner's will, 
he read the answer to his letter. 

' If you will take Margaret home to this important and 
ever-recurring tea, Baldwin,' said Haldane Carteret, ' I will 
go on a little farther, and smoke my cigar.' 

He went away from them quickly, and saying to himself, 
' It is to be, I think.' 



CHAPTEB XIV 

EULl COMPENSATION. 



It did not fall to Margaret Hungerford's lot to resume 
the topic of her interrupted conversation with her father. 
Mr Baldwin took that upon himself, and so sped in his mis- 
sion, that the old gentleman declared himself happier than 
he had ever been in his life before ; and then, suddenly and 
remorsefully reminiscent of his late domestic affliction, he 
added, ' If only poor Sibylla were here with us to share all 
this good fortune ! ' An aspiration which Mr Baldwin could 
have found it in his heart to echo, so full was that heart of 



138 A RIGHTED WRONG. 

In the love of this man for Margaret there was so much 
of generous kindness, such an intense desire to fill her life 
with a full and compensating happiness, to efface the past 
utterly, and give her in the present all that the heart of the 
most exacting woman could covet, that he regarded his suc- 
cess with more than the natural and customary exultation 
of a lover to whom ' yes ' has been said or rather implied. 
That Margaret realized, or indeed understood, even in its 
broad outlines, the alteration in the external circumstances 
of her life which her becoming his wife would effect, he did 
not imagine ; and he exulted to an extent which he would 
hitherto have believed impossible in the knowledge that he 
could give her wealth and position only inferior to his love. 

Beyond a vague understanding that Mr Baldwin was a 
very rich man for a commoner, and that, as the property 
was entailed on heirs general, Lady Davyntry would have it 
in the event of his dying childless, Mr Carteret had no clear 
notions about the position in which his daughter's second 
marriage would place her, and Mr Baldwin's explanations 
rather puzzled and confounded the worthy gentleman. He 
had shrunk as much as possible from realizing to himself the 
circumstances of Margaret's life in Australia, the disastrous 
experiences of her first marriage, and he now showed his 
dread of them chiefly by the complacency, the delight with 
which he dwelt upon the happiness which he anticipated for 
her in the society of Mr Baldwin, so accomplished a man, so 
perfect a gentleman, and withal such a lover of natural 
history. He was not disposed to take other matters deeply 
into consideration, and it was chiefly Haldane with whom 
the preliminaries of the marriage, which was to take place 
soon, and with as little stir or parade as possible, were dis- 
cussed. The young man's exultation was extreme. He 
expressed his feelings pretty freely, after his usual fashion, 



FULL COMPENSATION. 139 

to everybody ; but he reserved the full flow of his delight 
for James Dugdale's special edification. 

' It isn't the correct thing to talk to Baldwin about, of 
course,' he said one day ; ' but I find it very hard to hold my 
tongue, when I think of that ruffian Hungerford, and that 
it was through me she first saw him, and got the chance of 
bringing misery on herself. I long to tell Baldwin all about 
him. But it wouldn't do. I wonder if he knows much 
concerning him.' 

' jSTothing, I should say,' returned James shortly, — he 
never could be induced to say much when the topic of Mar- 
garet and her lover was in any way under discussion, — 
but the unsuspecting Haldane, in whose eyes James Dug- 
dale, though a more interesting companion, was a contem- 
porary of his father, and in the ' fogey ' category, did not 
notice this reluctance. 

' "Well, I suppose not,' said Haldane musingly. ' It's a 
pity ; for he would understand what we all think about him, 
if he did ; and I don't see how he is to realize that other- 
wise.' 

'Margaret will teach him bow he is estimated,' said 
James sadly. 

' I hope so,' was Haldane's hearty and emphatic reply. 
' By Jove ! it's a wonderful thing, when you come to think 
of it, that anybody should have things made up to them so 
completely as Madge is going to have them made up. I 
don't mean only his money, you know. I wonder how she 
will get on in Scotland, how she will play her part among 
tlie people there. I dare say Baldwin's neighbours will not 
like her much ; I suppose the mothers in that part of the 
world looked upon him as their natural prey.' 

' I don't know about that,' said James, ' but I fancy 
Margaret will be quite able to hold her own wherever she 



140 A RIGHTED WRONG. 

may go ; she is the sort of woman who may be safely trusted 
with wealth and station.' 

This was by no means the only conversation which took 
place between the ex-tutor and the ex-pupil on the subject 
then engrossing the attention of the families at Davyntry 
and Chayleigh ; Haldane's exuberant delight was apt to 
communicate itself after a similar fashion very frequently, 
and altogether he subjected his friend just then to a not in- 
considerable amount of pain. 

During the few weeks which intervened before the period 
named, very shortly after their engagement, for the marriage 
of Margaret Hungerford and Fitzwilliam Baldwin, there 
was no approach on Margaret's part to any confidential in- 
tercourse with James Dugdale. By tacit mutual consent 
they avoided each other, and yet she never so wronged in 
her thoughts the man who loved her with so disinterested a 
love, as to believe him alienated from ber, jealous of the 
good fortune of another, or grudging to her of the happiness 
which was to be hers. 

In the experience of her own feelings, in the engrossment 
of her own heart and thoughts in the new and roseate pros- 
pects which had opened suddenly before her, after her long 
wandering in dreary ways, she had learned to comprehend 
James Dugdale. She knew now how patiently and constantly 
he had loved and still loved her ; she knew now what had 
given him a prescient knowledge of her former self-sought 
doom ; she knew what had inspired the efforts he had made 
to avert it from her. Inexpressible kindness and pity for 
him, painful gratitude towards this man whom she never 
could have loved, filled Margaret's heart ; but she kept aloof 

from him. Explanation between them there could not be 

it would be equally bad for both. lie who had so striven 
to avert her misery would be consoled by her perfect happi- 



FULL COMPENSATION. 141 

ness ; in the time to come, the blessed peaceful time, he 
should share it. 

So she and James lived in the usual close relation, and 
Mr Carteret and Haldane talked freely of the coming event, 
of the splendid prospects opening before Margaret; but never 
a word was spoken directly between the two. 

A strongly appreciative friendship had sprung up between 
Mr Baldwin and James Dugdale. The elder man regarded 
the younger without one feeling of envy of the good looks, 
the good health, the physical activity, — in all which he was 
himself deficient, — but with a thorough comprehension of 
the difference between them which they constituted, and an 
almost womanish admiration of one so richly dowered by 
nature. 

Since Mr Baldwin's engagement to Margaret,— though 
James had loyally forced himself to utter the congratulations 
of whose truth and meaning none could form a truer estimate 
than he, — there had been little intercourse between them. 
Mr Baldwin now claimed Margaret as his chief companion 
during his daily and lengthy visits to Chayleigh ; and she, 
with all a woman's tact and instinctive delicacy, quietly 
aided the unobserved severance between himself and James, 
of which her lover was wholly unconscious. 

So the time — a time of such exceeding and incredible 
happiness to Margaret, that not all her previous experience 
of the delusions of life could avail to check the avidity with 
which she enjoyed every hour of it, and listened with greedy 
ears to every promise and protestation for the future — 
went on. 

On one point only she found she was not to have her 
own wishes carried out, wishes shared to the utmost by Mr 
Baldwin. Her father did not take kindly to the idea of leav- 
ing Chayleigh. His reasons were amusingly characteristic. 



142 A RIGHTED WEONG. 

' Tou see, my dear,' he said, when the matter had been 
urged upon him, with every kind of plea and prayer by 
Margaret, and with respectful earnestness by Mr Baldwin, 
' I should never feel quite myself, I should never feel quite 
comfortable away from my collection. Tou, my dear Mar- 
garet, never had any great taste in that way, and of course 
you don't understand it ; but there's Baldwin, now. Tou 
wouldn't like to part with your collection, would you ? Tou 
have a great many other reasons for liking the Dearie, of 
course, besides that ; but considering only that, you would 
not like it ? ' 

' Good heavens, sir ! ' exclaimed Mr Baldwin, ' how could 
you imagine such a thing as that we ever dreamed of part- 
ing you and your collection ? Why, we should as soon have 
thought of asking you to leave your arms or legs after you. 
Of course you'll move your collection to the Deane ; there's 
room for a dozen of the size.' 

Mr Carteret was a little put out, not exactly annoyed, 
but gene; and Margaret, who understood him perfectly, 
stopped her lover's flow of protestation and proposal by a 
look, and they soon left him to himself; whereupon Mr Car- 
teret immediately summoned James, and imparted to him 
the nature of the conversation which had just taken place. 

' Baldwin is the very best fellow in the world, James,' 
said the old gentleman in a confidential tone ; ' but, between 
you and me, we collectors and lovers of natural history are 
rather odd in our ways ; we have our little peculiarities, and 
our little jealousies, and our little envies. Tou know I 
would not deny Baldwin's good qualities ; and he has been 
very generous too in giving me specimens; but I have a 
kind of notion, for all that, that he would have no objection 
to my collection finding its way to the Deane.' 

Here Mr Carteret looked at James Dugdale, as if he 



FULL COMPENSATION. 143 

had made a surprisingly deep discovery; and James Dugdale 
had considerable difficulty in concealing his amusement. 

' Now you can, I am sure, quite understand that, how- 
ever I may appreciate Baldwin, I have no fancy for seeing 
my collection, after working at it all these years, merged in 
another — merged, my dear James ! ' 

And Mr Carteret's tone grew positively irate while he 
tapped Dugdale's arm impatiently with his long fingers. 

• But, sir,' said James, ' I quite understand all that ; hut 
how about parting with Margaret ? If she is to be at the 
Deane, hadn't you better be there also ? She is of more 
importance to you than even your collection, is she not?' 

' Well, yes, in a certain sense,' said the old gentleman, 
rather dubiously and reluctantly; 'in a certain sense, of 
course she is ; but, then, I can go to the Deane when I like, 
and she can come here when she likes ; and so long as I 
know she is happy (and she cannot fail to be Tiappy this 
time), I don't so much mind. But I really could not part 
with my collection ; and if it were moved and merged, I 
should feel I had parted with it. No, no, Margery and 
Baldwin will be great companions for each other, and they 
will do very well without us, James ; we will just stay quiet- 
ly here in the old place, and I am sure Haldane will under- 
take not to move my collection when I am gone.' 

Immediately after this conversation, Mr Carteret applied 
himself with great assiduity to the precious pursuit which, 
in the great interest of the domestic discussions then pend- 
ing, he had somewhat neglected, and showed his jealous zeal 
for his beloved specimens by a thousand little indications 
which Margaret perceived, and which she interpreted to Mr 
Baldwin, very much to his amusement. 

' Haldane,' said James Dugdale to Captain Carteret, ' I 
think you had better give Margaret a hint that she had bet- 



144 A KIGHTED WKONG. 

ter not urge her father's leaving Cbayleigh ; depend upon it, 
he will never consent, except it be very much against his 
will ; and if she presses him, she will only run the risk of 
making him like Baldwin very much less than he does at 
present. 

' Tou are quite right,' said Haldane, who was busily en- 
gaged in mending the eldest Miss Crofton's riding- whip ; 
' but why don't you tell her so yourself ? ' 

James was rather embarrassed by the question ; but he 
said, ' It would come better from you.' 

' Would it ? I don't see it. However, I don't mind. 
I'll speak to her. All right.' 

Haldane did speak to Margaret ; and. she acquiesced in 
James's opinion, and conformed to his advice. The subject 
dropped, and Mr Carteret entirely recovered his spirits. 
Haldane had another little matter to negotiate with his sis- 
ter, in which he was not so successful. He knew the wed- 
ding was to be very quiet indeed ; but everybody either then 
knew, or soon would know, that such an event was in con- 
templation ; and he could not see that it could make any 
difference to Margaret just to have the eldest Miss Crofton 
for her bridesmaid. He could assure his sister the eldest, 
' Lucy, you know,' was ' an extremely nice girl,' and her ad- 
miration of Margaret quite enthusiastic. 

Margaret was quite sure Lucy Crofton was a very nice 
girl indeed ; and she would have her for her bridesmaid, had 
she any intention of indulging in such an accessory, but she 
had none ; and Haldane (of course men did not understand 
such matters) had not reflected that to invite Miss Lucy in 
such a capacity must imply inviting all her family as specta- 
tors, and entail the undying enmity of the 'neighbourhood' 
at their exclusion. 

' Oh, hang it, Madge,' said Haldane in impatient disdain 



FULL COMPENSATION. 145 

of this reasoning, ' we are not people of such, importance 
that the neighbourhood need kick up a row because we are 
married or buried without their assistance.' 

' "We are not,' said Margaret gently, ' but Fitzwilliam is ; 
and don't you suppose, you dear stupid boy, that there are 
plenty of people to envy me my good fortune, of which they 
only know the flimsy surface, and to find me guilty of all 
sorts of insolences that I never dreamt of, if they only get 
the chance ? ' 

' I never thought of that. You're quite right, after all, 
Madge,' said Haldane ruefully. 

' There's a good deal you have never thought of, and 
which my life has made plain to me,' said Margaret ; and 
then she added in a lower tone, ' Can you not understand, 
Hal, how terribly trying my wedding will be to me, how 
many painful thoughts it must bring me ? Can you not 
see that I must wish to get through it as quietly as pos- 
sible ? ' 

This was the first word of reference, however distant, to 
the past which her brother had heard from Margaret's lips ; 
this was the first time he had ever seen the hard, lowering, 
stern, self-despising look upon her face, which had been 
familiar to all the other dwellers at Chayleigh before his 
return, and before she had accepted her new life and hope. 

She looked gloomily out over the prospect as she spoke. 
She and Haldane were walking together, and were just then 
opposite to the beeches. She caught Haldane' s arm, and 
turned him sharply round, then walked rapidly away from 
the spot. 

' What's the matter ? ' said her brother. He felt what 
she had just said deeply, notwithstanding his insouciance. 
' "What are you walking so fast for ? Tou look as if you 
saw a ghost ! ' 

10 



146 A RIGHTED WRONG. 

' "What, in the daylight, Hal ? ' said Margaret with a 
forced laugh. ' No, we are rather late ; let us go in.' 

The pleasure of Lady Davyntry in the perfect success of 
all her most cherished wishes would have been delightful to 
witness to any observer of a philosophic tendency. It is so 
rarely that any one is happy and grateful in proportion to 
one's anxiety and effort. Such purely disinterested pleasure 
as was hers is not frequently desired or enjoyed. 

' If anybody had told me I could ever feel so happy again 
in a wbrld which my Richard has left, I certainly would not 
have believed them,' said Eleanor, as Margaret strove to 
thank her for the welcome she gave her to the proud and 
happy position soon to be hers ; ' and you would hardly be- 
lieve me, Madge, if I were to tell you how short a time after 
the day I tried to make Fitz spy you through the glass 
there, and he was much too proper and genteel to do any- 
thing of the kind, I began to look forward to this happy 
event.' 

To do Lady Davyntry justice, it was some time before 
she admitted minor considerations in support of her vast and 
intense satisfaction ; it was actually twenty-four hours after 
her brother had informed her that Margaret had accepted 
him, when she found herself saying aloud, in the gladness of 
her heart and the privacy of her own room, ' How delightful 
it is to think that now there is no danger of his marrying a 
Scotchwoman ! How savage Jessie Mac Alpine will be ! ' 

The dew was shining on the grass and the flowers, the 
birds had hardly begun their morning hymn, on a morning 
in the gorgeous month of June, when Margaret Hungerford, 
wrapped in a white dressing-gown, and leaning out of the 
passion-flower-framed window of her room, looked out to- 



FULL COMPENSATION. 147 

wards the woods of Davyntry. The tall, fantastic, twisted 
chimneys and turrets, rich with the deep red of the old brick- 
work, showed through the leaf-laden trees. Margaret's pale, 
clear, spiritual face was turned towards them, her hands were 
clasped upon the window-sill ; she leaned more forward still, 
and her long hair was stirred by the light wind. 

' The one only thing he asks me for his sake,' she mur- 
mured ; ' but oh, how difficult, how impossible, never to look 
back, never voluntarily to look back upon the past again ! 
To live for the present and the future, to live only in his life, 
as he lives only in mine. Ah, that is easy for him, or at least 
easier; and it may be so — but for me, for me.' She swayed 
her slight figure to and fro, and wrung her hands. It was 
long since the gesture had ceased to be habitual now. ' I 
will try, I will keep my word to you, in all honest intention 
at least, my darling, my love, my husband ! ' She slightly 
waved one hand towards the woods, and a beautiful flush 
spread itself over her face. ' I will turn all my heart for 
ever from the past, if any effort of my will can do it, and live 
in your life only.' 

A few hours later, the quietest wedding that had ever 
been known in that part of the country took place in the 
parish church of Chayleigh, very much to the dissatisfaction 
of the few spectators who had had sufficient good fortune to 
be correctly informed of the early hour appointed for the 
ceremony. 

' Gray silk, my dear, and a chip bonnet, as plain as you 
please,' said Miss Laughton, the village dressmaker, to Miss 
Harland, the village milliner. ' I should like to know what 
poor Mrs Carteret, that's dead and gone, but had as genteel 
a taste in dress as ever I knew, would say to such a set-out 
as that.' 

' I expect, Jemima,' replied Miss Harland, who had a 



148 A EIGHTED WEONG. 

strong dash of spite in her composition, and felt herself 
aggrieved at the loss of Mrs Hungerford's modest custom in 
the article of widow's caps — ' I expect madam would not 
have caught Mr Baldwin easy, if Mrs Carteret was alive ; 
and gray silk and chip is good enough for her. I wonder 
what she wore at her wedding, when she ran away with Mr 
Hungerford— which he was a gay chap, whatever they had 
to say against him.' 

In these days, the avoidance of festive proceedings on 
the occasion of a marriage is not unusual ; but when Mar- 
garet was married, that the bride and bridegroom should 
drive away from the church-door was an almost unheard-of 
proceeding. Nevertheless, Mr Baldwin and Margaret de- 
parted after that fashion ; and Lady Davyntry only returned 
to Chayleigh to console Mr Carteret, who really did not 
seem to need consolation. 

A few days later, as Margaret and her husband were 
strolling arm-in-arm in the evening along the sea-shore of a 
then almost unknown village in South Wales, — now a 
prosperous and consequently intolerable ' watering-place,' — 
Mr Baldwin said to her — they had been talking of some 
letters he had had from his steward : 

' I wonder if you have any doubts in your mind about 
liking the Deane, Margaret.. I am longing to see you there 
to watch you making acquaintance with the place, taking 
your throne in your own kingdom.' 

' And I, she said with a smile and a wistful look in her 
gray eyes, ' sometimes think that when I am there I shall 
feel like Lady Burleigh.' 



THEEE LETTERS. 149 



CHAPTER XV 

THBEE LETTEBS'. 

Eighteen months had elapsed since the marriage of 
Fitzwilliam Baldwin and Margaret Hungerford, — a period 
which had brought about few changes at Chayleigh, beyond 
the departure, at an early stage of its duration, of Haldane 
Carteret to join his regiment, and which had been productive 
of only one event of importance. The eldest Miss Crofton 
had terminated at her leisure, after Margaret's departure, 
the capture of the young captain, as he was called by a 
courteous anticipation of the natural course of events, and 
there was every reason to suppose that the ensuing year 
would witness a second wedding from Chayleigh, in the 
parish church, which should be by no means obnoxious to 
public sentiment, on the score of quiet, if the eldest Miss 
Crofton should have her own way, which, indeed, the fair 
Lucy generally contrived to procure in every affair in which 
she was interested. 

Her parents entirely approved of the engagement. She 
had no fortune, and Haldane' s prospective independence was 
certain. It was a very nice thing for her to be wife to the 
future Mr Carteret of Chayleigh, and almost a nicer thing 
for her to be sister-in-law to Mrs Meriton Baldwin of the 
Diane. 

Margaret had become a wonderfully important personage 
in the neighbourhood she had left. Every particular of her 
household, every item of her expenditure, and — when she 
stayed a month at her father's house after her little daughter's 
birth, prior to going abroad for an indefinite period now 



150 A RIGHTED WRONG. 

more than six months ago — every article of her dress, was 
a subject of discussion and interest to people who had taken 
no particular notice of her in her previous stages of existence. 
The eldest Miss Crofton had a little ovation when she returned 
from a visit to the Deane, and simple Mr Carteret was 
surprised to find how many friends he was possessed of, how 
many inquirers were unwearyingly anxious to learn the latest 
news of ' dear Mrs Baldwin.' 

The quiet household at Chayleigh pursued its usual 
routine course, and little change had come to the two men, 
the one old, the other now elderly, who were its chief 
members. Of that little, the greater portion had fallen to 
the share of James Dugdale. His always bent and twisted 
figure was now more bent and twisted, his hair was grayer 
and scantier, his eyes were more hollow, his face was more 
worn, his quiet manner quieter, his rare smile more seldom 
seen. Any one familiar with his appearance eighteen months 
before, who had seen him enter the cheerful breakfast-room 
at Chayleigh one bright winter's morning, when Christmas- 
day was but a week off, would have found it difficult to 
believe that the interval had been so short. 

James Dugdale stood by the fire for a few minutes, then 
glancing round at the breakfast-table, he muttered, 'The 
post is not in — behind time — the snow, I suppose,' and went 
to the large window, against which he leaned, idly watching 
the birds as they hopped about on the snow-laden ground, 
and extracted bits of leaves and dry morsels of twig from its 
niggard breast. He was still standing there when Mr Car- 
teret came in, closely followed by a servant with a small tray 
laden with letters, which he duly sorted and placed before 
their respective claimants. 

There was a large foreign letter among those addressed 
to James Dugdale, but he let it lie beside his plate unnoticed; 



THREE LETTERS. 151 

all his attention was for the letter which Mr Carteret was 
deciphering with laborious difficulty. 

' From Margaret,' said the old gentleman at length, tak- 
ing off his double glasses with an air of relief, and laying 
them on the table. ' She does write such a scratchy hand, it 
quite makes my head ache to read it.' 

' Where are they now ? ' asked James. 

' At Sorrento. Margaret writes in great delight about 
the place and the climate, and the people they meet there, 
and the beauty and health of little Gerty. And Baldwin 
adds a postscript about the cicale, which is just what I wanted 
to know ; he considers there's no doubt about their chirp 
being much stronger and more prolonged than our grass- 
hopper's, and he has carefully examined the articulations.' 

' Does Margaret say anything about her own health ? ' 
interrupted James, so impatiently that he felt ashamed of 
himself the next minute, although Mr Carteret took the 
sudden suppression of his favourite topic with perfect meek- 
ness, as he made answer : 

' Yes, a good deal. Here it is, read the letter for your- 
self, James,' — and he handed over the document to his com- 
panion, and betook himself to the perusal of a scientific re- 
view, — a production rarer in those days than now, — and for 
whose appearance Mr Carteret was apt to look with eager- 
ness. 

James Dugdale read the letter which Margaret Baldwin 
had written to her father from end to end, and then he 
turned back to the beginning, and read it through again. 
No document whicb could come from any human hand could 
have such a charm and value for him as one of her letters. 

His feelings had undergone no change as regarded her, 
though, as regarded himself, they had become purified from 
the little dross of selfishness and vain regret that had hung 



152 



A RIGHTED WRONG. 



about them for a little after she had left Chayleigh. He 
could now rejoice, with a pure and true heart, in her exceed- 
ing, her perfect happiness ; he could think of her husband, 
whom she loved with an intense and passionate devotion 
which had transformed her character, as it seemed at times 
to transfigure her face, illumining it with a heavenly light 
— with ardent friendship and gratitude as the giver of such 
happiness, and with sincere and ungrudging admiration as 
the being who was capable of inspiring such a love. He 
could thank God now, from his inmost heart, for the change 
which had been wrought in, and for, the woman he loved 
with a love which angels might have seen with approval. All 
he had longed and prayed and striven for, was her good — and 
it had come — it had been sent in the utmost abundance ; and 
he never murmured now, ever so lightly, that he had not 
been suffered to count for anything in the fulfilment of his 
hope, in the answer to his prayer. 

He read, with keen delight, the simple but strong words 
in which Margaret described to her father the peace, happi- 
ness, companionship, and luxury of her life. Only the light- 
est cloud had cast a shade over the brightness of Margaret's 
life since her marriage. She had been rather delicate in 
health after the birth of her child, and a warmer climate than 
that of Scotland had been recommended for her. Mr Bald- 
win had not been sorry for the opportunity thus afforded 
him of indulging Margaret and himself by visiting the coun- 
tries so well known to him, but which his wife had never 
seen. Her experience of travel had been one of wretched- 
ness ; in this respect, also, he would make the present con-, 
trast with and efface the past. The ' Lady Burleigh ' feel- 
ing which Margaret had anticipated had come upon her 
sometimes, in the stately and well-ordered luxury of her new 
home ; she had sometimes experienced a startling sense of 



THREE LETTERS. 153 

the discrepancy between the things she had seen and suffered, 
and her surroundings at the Deane ; but these fitful feelings 
had not recurred often or remained with her long, and she 
had become deeply attached to her beautiful home. Never- 
theless, she, too, had welcomed the prospect of a foreign 
tour ; and during her visit, en route, to Chayleigh, she had 
spoken so freely and frequently to James of her anticipations 
of pleasure, of the delight she took in her husband's culti- 
vated taste, and in his manifold learning, that James per- 
ceived how rapidly and variously her intellect had developed 
in the sunshine of happiness and domestic love. 

Though she has always been the first of women in my 
mind,' James Dugdale had said to himself then, ' I would 
not have said she was either decidedly clever or decidedly 
handsome formerly, and now she is both beautiful and 
brilliant.' 

And so she was. It was not the praise of prejudice 
which pronounced her so. There were many who would, if 
they could, have denied such attributes to Mrs Baldwin of 
the Deane, but they might as well have attempted to deny 
light to the sunshine. 

In this letter, which James Dugdale read with such 
pleasure, Margaret said she was stronger, ' much stronger,' 
and that every one thought her looking very well. ' Pitz- 
william is so much of that opinion,' she wrote, ' that he thinks 
this is a favourable opportunity of having a life-size portrait 
taken of me, especially as a first-rate artist has just been 
introduced to us, — if the picture be successful, a replica 
shall be made for you. The long windows of our sitting-rooms 
open on a terrace overhanging the sea, and the walls are over- 
run with passionflower — just like those at home, which 
James used to take such care of. I mean to have my picture 
taken standing in the centre window, with my little Gertrude 



154 A EIGHTED WRONG. 

in my arms. If you don't like this, or prefer any other pose, 
say so when you write. Eleanor is delighted with the no- 
tion.' 

The tone of the whole letter was that of happiness, full, 
heartfelt, not wanting in anything. James Dugdale held it 
still in his hands, when he had read it through for the second 
time, and fell into one of the reveries which were habitual 
to him. It showed him Margaret, as he had seen her on the 
day of her unexpected return, pale, stern, defiant of the 
bitterness of her fate, — her slight form, clad in its heavy 
mourning robes, framed by the passion-flower tendrils, the 
woman in whose face he read more than confirmation of all 
he had ever feared or prophesied of evil for her, and in whose 
letter there was such a story of happiness as it falls but 
rarely to the lot of any mortal to have to tell. He had never 
felt so entirely, purely, unselfishly happy about Margaret as 
he felt at that moment. 

' Tou have no letter from Haldane, have you ? ' asked 
Mr Carteret, as he relinquished his review for his coffee- 
cup. ' I have not, and Margery complains that he has not 
written.' 

The question reminded James of his hitherto disre- 
garded letters. He turned to the table and took them up : 

' No, sir, there's no letter from Haldane.' 

Mr Carteret uttered a feeble sound of dissatisfaction, 
but made no further remark, and James opened the foreign 
letter, which was, as he expected, from Hayes Meredith. 
It announced the writer's intended departure from Mel- 
bourne by the first ship after that which should carry the 
present letter, and named the period at which the writer 
hoped to reach England. 

'The Tarra is a quick sailer,' wrote Hayes Meredith, 
and we expect to be in Liverpool a few weeks later than the 



THREE LETTEE8. 155 

Emu. My former letters will have explained how all diffi- 
culties subsided, but up to the last I have not felt quite con- 
fident of being able to get away, and thought it was well to 
write only one ship in advance.' 

There was a good deal of expression of pleasure at the 
prospect of seeing his old friend again, and introducing his 
son to him, on Hayes Meredith's part, some anxiety about 
his son's future, and warm thanks to James for certain 
propositions he had made concerning him. 

' My friend Meredith and his son have sailed at last, sir,' 
said James, addressing Mr Carteret. ' He will be here soon, 
I fancy, if they have had fine weather.' 

' Indeed,' said Mr Carteret. ' I hope he is bringing the 
opossum and wombat skins, and the treeworm and boomer- 
ang you asked him for. I should like to have them really 
brought from the spot, you know. One can buy such things 
from the dealers, of course, but they are never so interesting, 
and often not genuine.' 

'I have no doubt, sir, they will all arrive quite safely.' 

' Tou have asked Mr Meredith and his son to come here 
direct, I hope, James ? ' 

* Yes, I obeyed your kind instructions in that.' 

' AVhat a pity Margery is not here,' said Mr Carteret, 
with a placid little sigh, ' to see her kind friend ! ' 

' Xever mind, sir ; Margaret will have plenty of oppor- 
tunity for seeing Meredith. He will not remain less than 
six months in England.' 

In the pleasure and the excitement caused by the pros- 
pect of his friend's arrival (it was not customary or possible 
then for people to drop in from Melbourne for a week or 
two, and be heard of next at Salt Lake), James did not im- 
mediately remember what Margaret had said when Hayes 
Meredith's coming had first been talked of— that if he or 



156 A RIGHTED WRONG. 

any one came from the place which had witnessed her suffer- 
ing and degradation, to her father's house, she would feel it 
to be an evil omen to her. "When at length he did recall 
her expression of feeling about it, he smiled. 

' How she would laugh at herself if I were to remind her 
now that she once said that ! What could be an ill omen to 
her now ? What could bring evil near her now ? — God bless 
her!' 

Some weeks later the Tarra, having encountered boister- 
ous weather in the Channel, arrived at Liverpool. On the 
day but one following its arrival, James Dugdale received a 
short note from Hayes Meredith, which contained these 
words : 

' Liverpool, Jan. 24. 

'My deae Dugdale, — We have arrived, and Eobert 
and I hope to get to Chayleigh by Thursday. Should Mrs 
Baldwin be in Scotland, endeavour to induce her to see me, 
at her father's house, in preference to any other place, as 
soon as possible. Do this, if you can, without alarming her, 
but at all events, and under all risks, do it. Circumstances 
which occurred immediately before my departure make it 
indispensable that I should see her at once on important and, 
I regret to add, unpleasant business. I am too tired and 
dizzy to write more. — Tours, Hates Meeedith.' 



CHAPTEE XVI. 

HATES MEBEDITH's EETELATION". 

It had seldom fallen to the lot of James Dugdale to ex- 
perience more painful mental disquietude than that in which 
he passed the interval between the receipt of Hayes Mere- 



HAYES MEKEDITH'S REVELATION. 157 

dith's letter and the arrival of his friend, accompanied by 
his son, at Chayleigh. Mr Carteret, always unobservant, 
did not notice the preoccupation of James's manner, and 
James had decided, within a few minutes after he had read 
the communication which had so disturbed him, that he 
would not mention the matter to the old gentleman at all, if 
concealment were practicable — certainly not before it should 
become indispensable, if it should ever prove to be so. 

An unpleasant communication to be made to Margaret ! 
"What could it be ? The vain question whose solution was so 
near, and yet appeared to him so distant, in his impatience 
repeated itself perpetually in every waking hour, and he 
would frequently start from his sleep, roused by a terrible 
sense of undefined trouble impending over the woman who 
never ceased to occupy the chief place in his thoughts. The 
problem took every imaginable shape in his mind. The 
little knowledge he had of the circumstances of Margaret's 
life in Australia left him scope for all kinds of conjectures 
and did not impose superior probability on any. "Was there 
a secret reason beyond, more pressing than her natural, easily 
explicable shrinking from the revival of pain and humiliation, 
which kept Margaret so absolutely and resolutely silent con- 
cerning the years of her suffering and exile ? "Was there 
something which she knew and dreaded, which might come 
to light at any time, which was soon to come to light now, 
in the background of her memory ? Was there some trans- 
action of Hungerford's, involving disgraceful consequences, 
which had been dragged into publicity, in which she, too, 
must be involved, as well as the dead man's worthless 
memory ? This might be the case ; it might be debts, swin- 
dling, anything ; and the brilliant and happy marriage she 
had made, might be destined to be clouded over by the 
shadow of her former life. 



158 A RIGHTED WRONG. 

James Dugdale suffered very keenly during the few days 
in which he pondered upon these things. He tortured him- 
self with apprehension, and knew that, to a certain extent, 
it must be groundless. The only real, serious injury which 
could come out of the dark storehouse of the past, into the 
present life of Fitzwilliam Baldwin's wife, must be one of a 
nature to interfere with her relations towards her husband. 
She could afford to defy every other kind of harm. She was 
raised far above the influence of all material evil, and removed 
from the sphere in which the doings of people like Hunger- 
ford and his associates were ever heard of. Her marriage 
bucklered her no less against present than past evil ; on all 
sides but one. When James weighed calmly the matter of 
which he never ceased to think, he called in the ' succours of 
thought ' to the discomfiture of ' fear,' which in its vague has 
greater torment than in its most defined shape, and drew 
upon their resources largely. Margaret had indeed been 
reticent with him, with her father, with Haldane, even, he 
felt persuaded, with her sister-in-law Lady Davyntry ; but 
had she been equally reticent with Baldwin ? He thought 
she had not ; he hoped, he believed she had not ; that the 
confidence existing between her and her husband was as 
perfect as their mutual love, and that, however strictly she 
might have maintained a silence, which Baldwin would have 
been the last man in the world to induce or wish her to break, 
up to the period of her marriage, he did not doubt that Mar- 
garet's husband was now in possession of all the facts of her 
past life, so that no painful intelligence could find him more 
or less unprepared than his wife to meet it. 

It needed the frequent repetition of this belief to him- 
self, the frequent repetition of the grounds on which it was 
founded, to enable James Dugdale to subdue the apprehen- 
sions inspired by Hayes Meredith's letter. His delicate 



HAYES MEKEDITH'S REVELATION. 159 

health, his nervous susceptibility, the almost feminine sensi- 
tiveness of his temperament, made suspense, anxiety, and 
apprehension peculiarly trying to him ; and the servants at 
Chayleigh, keener observers than their master, quickly found 
out that something was wrong with Mr Dugdale, and that 
the arrival of the two gentlemen from foreign parts, for 
whose reception preparations were being duly made, would 
not be a cause of unalloyed pleasure to him. 

The urgency of Meredith's request, that there might be 
no delay in a meeting between himself and Margaret, gave 
James much uneasiness, because, in addition to the general 
vagueness of the matter, he did not in this particular instance 
know what to do. Hayes Meredith did not wish her to be 
alarmed (which looked as if he believed her to be ignorant 
of the unpleasant intelligence to which he alluded, as if he 
contemplated the necessity of its being broken to her with 
caution), but he laid stress on the necessity of an immediate 
meeting. How was this to be accomplished ? Meredith 
had not thought of such a contingency as that which actually 
existed. He had supposed it probable Mr and Mrs Baldwin 
would be in Scotland when his letter should reach James 
Dugdale, which must create a delay of a few days indeed, 
but he had not contemplated their absence at such a dis- 
tance as must imply the postponement of a meeting for 
weeks. 

James did not know what to do. To summon Margaret 
and Mr Baldwin to return at once, without any clue to the 
meaning of the communication awaiting them, would be to 
alarm them to an extent, which, under any circumstances 
within the reach of his imagination, must be unnecessary ; 
and from the possible responsibility involved in not procur- 
ing their return he naturally shrank. He could not com- 
municate with Meredith, whose letters bore no address but 



160 A EIGHTED WRONG. 

' Liverpool ; ' there was nothing for it but the painful pro- 
cess of patience. 

Mr Carteret talked of Margaret more than usual in the 
interval between the arrival of Meredith's letter and the day 
on which he was expected at Chayleigh ; the association of 
ideas made him garrulous, and he expatiated largely to 
James upon the pleasure which Mr Meredith would feel on 
seeing his protegee of the bad old times so differently cir- 
cumstanced, and the splendid hospitality with which he 
would certainly be entertained at the Deane. Baldwin 
would return sooner than he had intended, no doubt, in 
consequence of Mr Meredith's visit to England. 

When Mr Carteret expressed his opinion, apparently 
oblivious of the fact that the state of Margaret's health 
rendered her remaining abroad peculiarly desirable, James 
heard him with a sense of partial relief. It would be much 
gained, let the unpleasant business before them be what it 
might, if Mr Carteret could be kept from alarm or pain in 
connection with it. If he could be brought to regard the 
sudden return of Margaret as a natural event, considering 
his placid nature and secluded habits, it might be readily 
practicable to secure him from all knowledge of what had 
occurred. 

There was strong 'anticipative consolation for James 
Dugdale in this reflection. Reason with himself as be 
would, strive against it as he might, there was a presenti- 
ment of evil upon James's heart, a thrill of dread of the in- 
terruption of that happiness in which he found such pure 
and disinterested delight, and he dared not think of such a 
dread extending itself to the old man, who had built such 
an edifice of pride and contentment on his daughter's for- 
tunes, and would have so little strength to bear, not alone 
its crumbling, but any shock to its stability. 



hayes Meredith's eevelation. 161 

' Let it be what it may, I think it can be hidden from 
him,' said James Dugdale, as he bade Mr Carteret good-night 
for the last time before all his suspense should be resolved 
into certainty. 

That particular aspect of nature, to which the complacent 
epithets ' good old. English ' have been most frequently 
applied by poets and novelists, presented itself at Chayleigh, 
in perfection, on the day of Hayes Meredith's arrival, ' Our 
English summer ' has become rather mythical in this gen- 
eration, and the most bearable kind of cold weather, keen, 
bright, frosty, kindly (to those who can afford ubiquitous 
fires and double windows), occurs in miserably small pro- 
portion to the dull, damp, despairing winter of fogs- and 
rain. It was not so between twenty and thirty years 
ago, however, and the eyes of the long-expatriated English- 
man were refreshed, and those of his colonial-born son 
astonished, by the beauty and novelty of the scenery through 
which they passed on their journey southwards. 

Chayleigh was one of those places which look particu- 
larly beautiful in winter. It boasted splendid evergreens, 
and grassy slopes carefully kept, and the holly trees, freshly 
glistening after a fall of snow, which had just disappeared, 
were grouped about the low picturesque house like ideal 
trees in a fancy sketch of the proper home of Christmas. It 
was difficult to realize that the only dwellers in the pleasant 
house, from whose long low windows innumerable lights 
twinkled brightly, were two men, the one old in years, and 
older still in his quiet ways, in his deadness of sympathy with 
the outer world, the other declining also in years, and car- 
rying, in a frail and suffering body, a heart quite purged of 
self, but heavy-laden with trouble for one far dearer than 
•self had ever been to him. 

11 



162 A KIGHTED WKONG. 

Fair women and bright children should have tenanted 
such a home as that to which Mr Carteret, a little later 
than the hour at which they were expected, bade Hayes 
Meredith and his son a hearty if somewhat old-fashioned 
welcome. 

When the post-chaise which brought the travellers 
stopped, James Dugdale met his old friend as he stepped out, 
and the two looked at each other with the contending feelings 
of pain and pleasure which such a meeting was calculated to 
produce. Time had so altered each that the other would 
not have recognized him had their meeting been a chance 
one ; but when, a little later, they regarded each other more 
closely, many familiar looks and expressions, turns of feature 
and of phrase, made themselves observed in both, which re- 
stored the old feeling of familiarity. 

Then James Dugdale saw the strong, frank, hopeful 
young man, with his vivacious black eyes, and his strong 
limbs, his cheery laugh, and his jovial self-reliant temper, 
once more, and found all those qualities again in the world- 
taught, and the world-sobered, but not world-worn, man 
whose gray hair was the only physical mark of time set 
upon him. 

Then Hayes Meredith saw the pale, stooped student, 
with form awry and spiritual sensitive face, bearing upon 
it the inexplicable painful expression which malformation 
gives, — the keen intelligence, the sadly strong faculty of 
suffering, the equally keen affections and firm will. Time 
had set many a mark upon James. He had had rich brown 
curls, the only gift of youth dealt lavishly to him by nature, 
but they were gone now, and his hair was thin and gray, 
and the lines in his face were more numerous and deeper 
than might have been fitting at twenty additional years. 
But Hayes Meredith saw that same face under the lines, 



HAYES MEKEDITH S EEVELATION". 1G3 

and in a wonderfully short time he found himself saying to 
himself — ' I should feel as if we were boys together again, 
only that Dugdale, poor fellow, never was a boy.' 

' Is Mrs Baldwin here ? ' was Meredith's first question 
to his friend, after the undemonstrative English greeting, 
which said so little and meant so much. 

' !No, she is abroad.' 

' How unfortunate ! ' 

' What is the matter ? Is anything very wrong ? ' 

' No, no, we'll put it right — but we cannot talk of it now. 
When can I have some time with you quite alone ? ' 

' To-night, if you are not too tired,' returned James, 
who was intensely impatient to hear what had to be told, but 
to whose sensitive nerves the strong, steady, almost uncon- 
cerned manner of his friend conveyed some little assurance. 

' To-night, then.' 

There was no farther private conversation between the 
two. Hayes Meredith devoted himself to Mr Carteret, 
whose placid character afforded him considerable amusement, 
in its contrast with those of the bustling and energetic 
companions of his ordinary life. To Mr Carteret, Hayes 
Meredith was an altogether new and delightful trouvaille. 
That he came from a new world, of infinite interest and im- 
portance to England ; that he could tell of his own personal 
experience, particulars of the great events, political, com- 
mercial, and social, to which colonial enterprise had given 
rise ; that, as a member of a strange community, with all the 
interest of a foreign land, and all the sympathy of fellowship 
of race attaching to them, Mr Carteret knew, if he had 
cared to think about it, and he might perhaps, merely as an 
intellectual exercise, have comprehended, that there was 
something remarkable about his guest in that aspect. But 
he did not care about it in the least. The political, social, 



164 A SIGHTED WKONG. 

and commercial life of either this half of the world or the 
other half was a matter of entire indifference to him. He 
was eminently desirous to ascertain, as soon as politeness 
warrauted the inquiry, whether Mr Meredith had brought to 
England the ' specimens ' which James Dugdale had be- 
spoken, and that point satisfactorily disposed of, and an 
early hour on the following day appointed for their disinter- 
ment from the general mass of luggage, he turned the con- 
versation without delay on the cranial peculiarities of 'black 
fellows,' the number of species into which the marsupial 
genus may be divided, and the properties of the turpentine 
tree. On all these matters Hayes Meredith sustained a 
very credible examination, and during its course rapidly 
arrived at a very kindly feeling towards his gentle and ec- 
centric but eminently kind-hearted entertainer. There was 
a curious occult sympathy between the minds of James Dug- 
dale and Hayes Meredith, as the latter thought : 

' If it could be hidden from the poor old gentleman, and 
I really see no reason why he should ever know it, what a 
good thing it will be ! ' 

Mr Carteret had taken an early opportunity of expressing, 
not ungracefully, his sense of the kindness which his daughter 
bad received at the hands of Mr Meredith and his family, 
and his regret that she was not then at Chayleigb to welcome 
him. The embarrassment with which his guest received his 
courteous observations, and the little allusion which he 
afterwards made to Margaret, though it would have been 
natural that she should have been the prevailing subject of 
their conversation, did not strike Mr Carteret in the least, 
though James Dugdale perceived it plainly and painfully, 
and it rendered the task which he had set himself— that of 
entertaining Eobert Meredith— anything but easy. The 
mere notion of such a possibility as taking any notice of a 



HAYES MEKEDITIl's REVELATION. 105 

boy, after having once shaken hands with him, and told him. 
he was very happy to see him, and hoped he would make 
himself quite at home at Chayleigh, would never have oc- 
curred to Mr Carteret. About boys, as boys, he knew very 
little indeed'; but if the word aversion could ever be used 
with propriety in describing a sentiment entertained by Mr 
Carteret, he might be said to regard them with aversion. 
They made noises, they opened doors unnecessarily often, 
and they never shut them ; they trod on people's feet, and 
tore people's dresses ; they did not wash their hands with 
decent frequency ; and once a terrible specimen of the genus, 
having been admitted to a view of his precious case of Cape 
butterflies, thrust his plebeian and intrusive elbow through 
the glass. This was final. 

' I don't like boys,' said Mr Carteret ; ' I don't understand 
them. Keep them away from me, please.' 

He had listened with a mild shudder to Haldane's 
praises of that ' wonderfully clever child,' the eldest Miss 
Crofton's ' little brother ; ' and had turned a desperately deaf 
ear to all hints that an invitation for the urchin to inspect 
the wonders of the 'collection' might 'be regarded by the 
Crofton family as an attention. 

' "Wonderfully clever, is he ? ' said Mr Carteret musing- 
ly ; ' what a nuisance he must be ! ' 

Haldane did not mention the talented creature again, 
and no boy had ever troubled Mr Carteret from that hour 
until now. He had the satisfaction of knowing, when his 
prompt invitation was extended to James Dugdale's friends, 
that Robert Meredith was a big boy — not an objectionable 
child, with precocious ideas, prying eyes, and fingers addicted 
to mischief — had it been otherwise, his patience and hospi- 
tality would have been sorely tried. 

' You will see to the young gentleman, Poster,' be had 



1G6 A EIGHTED WRONG. 

said to his confidential servant ; ' I dare say he will like a 
good deal to eat and drink, and you can see that he does not 
wear strong boots in the house, and — ah— hem, Foster, you 
can make him understand — politely, you know — that people 
in general don't go into my rooms. You understand, Pos- 
ter ? ' 

' Oh yes, sir ; I understand,' said Foster, in a tone which 
to Mr Carteret's sensitive ears implied an almost unfeeling 
indifference, but Foster acted on the hint for all that, and 
the result was remarkable. 

Mr Carteret never once had reason to complain of Eobert 
Meredith. The boy never vexed or worried him ; he seemed 
to have an intuitive comprehension of his feelings and pre- 
judices, of his harmless little oddities, and in a silent distant 
kind of way — for though a wonderful exception, Eobert was 
still a boy, and therefore to be avoided — Mr Carteret actually 
came to like him. In which particular he formed an excep- 
tion to the entire household as then assembled at Chayleigh, 
and even when it received the accession of Mr Baldwin, 
Margaret, and their little daughter. No one else in the 
house liked Eobert Meredith. 

The preoccupation of James Dugdale's mind, the anxiety 
and suspense of some days, which grew stronger and less 
endurable now when a few hours only divided him from 
learning, with absolute certainty, the evil tidings which 
Hayes Meredith had to communicate, rendered his friend's 
son and his affairs objects of very secondary interest to him. 
"When he thought of the business which had induced Mere- 
dith to undertake such a voyage to England, such an absence 
from home, he roused himself to remember the keen interest 
he had taken in the father's projects for, and on account of, 
the son. But he could only remember it ; he could not feel 
it again. When he should know the worst, when he and 



hayes Meredith's revelation. 1G7 

Meredith should have had their private talk that night, then 
things would resume their proper proportion, then he should 
•be able to fulfil all his friend's behests, with the aid of his 
hand and his heart alike. But now, only the face of Mar- 
garet, pale, wan, stern, with the youth and bloom gone from 
it, as he had seen her when she first came home ; only the 
face of Margaret, transfigured in the light of love and joy, of 
pride and pleasure, as he had seen her last, held his atten- 
tion. Her form seemed to flit before him in the air. 
The sound of her voice mingled, to his fancy, with all other 
sounds. The effort to control his feelings, and bide his time, 
almost surpassed his strength. Afterwards, when he re- 
•called that day, and tried to remember his impressions of 
Eobert Meredith, James recollected him as a quiet, gentle- 
manly, self-possessed boy, with a handsome face, a good 
figure, and an intelligent expression — a little shy, perhaps, 
but James did not see that until afterwards. A boy with- 
out the objectionable habits of boys, but also without the 
frankness which beseems boyhood. A boy who watched Mr 
Carteret's conversation with his father, and rapidly perceived 
that gentleman's harmless eccentricities, and who, when he 
found that a total absence of observation was one of them, 
marked each fresh exhibition of them with a contemptuous 
sneer, which would not have been out of place on the coun- 
tenance of a full-grown demon. He had a good deal of the 
early-reached decision in opinion and in manner which is a 
feature in most young colonials, but he was not unpleasantly 
' bumptious ; ' and James Dugdale, had his mind been free to 
permit him to find pleasure in anything, would have enjoy- 
ed making the acquaintance of his old friend's son. 

At length the two men found themselves alone in James 
Dugdale's room. 

' Our consultation is likely to be a long one, Dugdale,' 



16S 



A RIGHTED WRONG. 



said Meredith, as lie seated himself close by the fire. 'Is 
there any danger of our being interrupted or overheard ? ' 

' None whatever,' James answered. He felt unable to 
speak, to ask a question, now that the time had come. 

Meredith looked at him compassionately, but shrugged 
his shoulders at the same time, imperceptibly. He under- 
stood his friend's sensitiveness ; his weakness he could not 
understand. 'I may as well tell you at once,' he said, 
' about this bad business.' He took a paper from a pocket- 
book as he spoke. ' Tell me the exact date of Mr Baldwin's 
marriage.' 

James named it without adding a word. Then Meredith 
handed him the paper he held, and James, having read it 
hastily, looked up at him with a pale horrified face. 



CHAPTEE XVII. 

CONSULTATION. 



The paper which caused James Dugdale such painful 
emotion was a certificate of the identification and burial of 
the body of Godfrey Hungerford, and was dated rather 
more than a year after the marriage of his supposed widow 
with Fitzwilliam Meriton Baldwin, and two years and five 
months later than the period at which his death in the bush 
had been reported to Margaret. 

In reply to the eager questions which James asked him, 
when he had somewhat recovered his composure, Hayes 
Meredith told his companion that he had the best of all con- 
firmation of the truth of the statement which that document 
set forth — that of his own eyes. There was not the faintest 
hope of error, not the slightest chance that in this matter 



CONSULTATION. 169 

any trick, any design to extort money was concerned. That 
such might he the case had beeii Hayes Meredith's first idea, 
when, as he told James Dugdale, he had received a mysteri- 
ous communication from a ' pal ' of Iiungerford's, who was 
anything hut favourably known to the Melbourne police, to 
the effect that the supposed murdered man was alive, and 
might be found, under an assumed name, in a wretched hovel 
in one of the poorest and least reputable quarters of the 
town. 

' It was necessary to satisfy myself about the thing with- 
out delay,' said Meredith ; ' and I did not lose an hour. I 
met the messenger at the place appointed in the note, and 
told him, if any one had formed the goodly scheme of deceiv- 
ing me by personating Hungerford, it would signally fail. 
I could not be deceived on such a point, and should simply 
expose the fraud at once. On the other hand, if this man, 
who appeared, from the other fellow's report, to be in a 
rapidly dying state, should really prove to be Hungerford, I 
could not understand his applying to me, on whom he had 
no claim whatever, and should certainly not get the chance 
of establishing one. The man, a seedy gambler, whom I re- 
membered having seen with Hungerford, — his name was 
Oakley, — said he had no intention to deceive me. They were 
'pals' in misfortune and misery, Hungerford and himself, 
and wanted nothing but a little help from me. Hungerford 
had been saved from murder by a black woman, and had 
wandered for months, enduring an amazing amount of suffer- 
ing. How so self-indulgent a dog as he was ever bore it, I 
can't understand ; but he had a love of life in him I have 
never seen equalled ; he clung to life, and fought for it madly, 
when his agonies in the hospital were perfectly unbearable 
to see. After some time, they struck the trail of such civil- 
ization as is going in the remoter districts of our part of the 



170 A RIGHTED WRONG. 

world ; and Hungerford got away, and one of the first per- 
sons he fell in with was this Oakley. He did not give me 
a very clear account of what they did, and, as you may sup- 
pose, I was not very anxious to know ; it was very likely all 
the harm in their power, at all events ; they both made cause 
for themselves to be chary of recognition, and afraid of the 
strong arm of the law.' 

' Did this Oakley mention Margaret ? ' 

' Only cursorily. He said they had been forced to ven- 
ture into Melbourne, and he had ' asked about ' and dis- 
covered that Mrs Hungerford had lived quietly and respect- 
ably, presumably by my assistance, after her husband left 
her, and had sailed for England when the news of his death 
was spread in Melbourne. He said Hungerford was glad 
when he found his wife had got away safely ; he could never 
hope to rise in this world any more, and he did not wish her 
to suffer any farther.' 

' The ruffian acknowledged his wickedness, then ? ' said 
James. 

' "Well, yes, he did ; I must say he did. I went on to 
the hospital with Oakley, and saw in a moment there was no 
mistake about it. The man lying there, in the last stage of 
destitution, and of that peculiar depth of loathsome disease 
which only comes from drink, was certainly Godfrey Hun- 
gerford. I need not tell you what I felt, as I looked at him 
and thought of his unconscious wife. I had your letter, tell- 
ing me about her being at Chayleigh, in my pocket-book at 
the time.' 

' No, you need not tell me,' said James ; ' it must have 
been most horrible.' 

' It was just that,' said Meredith, with a rueful look 
and a shake of the head ; ' such a miserable creature as he 
was to see, I hope I never may have to look at a»ain. I 



CONSULTATION. 171 

flaid very little to him — nothing about Margaret. He did 
thank me in a rough kind of way, and said he knew if he 
could get me communicated with I would help him.', 

' Did he not ask you if you knew anything of Margaret 
after she left Melbourne ? Did he show no anxiety for her 
fate ? ' 

' Xo ; I think in addition to his natural heartlessness 
and selfishness his mind was much enfeebled by disease at 
this time, and he was sinking fast. He had no friend, no 
acquaintance, he told me, but Oakley ; and I was careful to 
ask him whether Oakley was the only person who knew that 
he was still alive, and then in Melbourne. He declared to 
me that such was the case. I told him I asked in case he 
should recover, when, if he knew any other persons, I might 
try to interest them in his case. But I am certain that in 
this instance he told the truth. He was entered on the 
books of the hospital as John Perry, and had not borne his 
own name during all the months of his wandering life. He 
went off into a short slumber while I sat by him, and strange 
thoughts came into my mind as I looked at his wretched, 
vice-worn, poverty-stricken face, and thought of what he 
must have been when he first came across that fine young 
creature's path, and even what he was when I went to see 
them at your request. I assure you he had even then good 
looks and a pleasant manner, and scoundrel as I knew him to 
be, greater scoundrel as I afterwards found him, I could not 
altogether wonder that that woman had cared for him once.' 

' Poor girl, poor girl,' said James. His elbows were on 
the table, and his face rested on his clasped hands. His 
hollow eyes looked out eagerly at Hayes Meredith, whose 
strength and composure formed a touching contrast to his 
nervous weakness. 

' To go on with my story,' Meredith continued : ' I told 



172 A SIGHTED WROXG. 

Hungerford I should see him again, and left money for his 
use ; Oakley was to let me know how he was ; and when I 
left him I took a long walk, as my way is when I am puzzled, 
so as to get time to think it out. My first impulse was to 
write to you at once, but I discarded the suggestion on more 
mature consideration. Everything must, of course, depend 
on whether the man lived or died. The one was almost too- 
bad to fear, the other was almost too good to hope for. 
Among your letters there was one in which I recollected you 
had told me all the particulars of Margaret's marriage, and 
the peculiar circumstances of Mr Baldwin's property. I 
went home, after a long and anxious cogitation, during which 
I made up my mind, at all events, not to write ; and read 
this letter. Here are the memoranda I made from it.' 

He laid a long slip of paper ou the table before James, 
who glanced anxiously at it, but did not take it up. 

' Tou see, Dugdale,' continued Meredith, after he had 
mended the fire, and thrown himself back in his chair, with 
his hands extended, and the finger tips joined in an attitude 
of demonstration, ' this matter has more than one side to it ;. 
more than the side I can see you are dwelling on, very pain- 
fully, and very naturally — Margaret's feelings. As for that 
part of it, it is dreadful, of course ; but then she need never 
know any of the particulars.' 

' I hope not — I trust not,' said Dugdale in a low con- 
strained voice. ' If I know anything of her, the idea of the 
scene you describe taking place while she was in the midst 
of happiness and luxury would make her wretched for many 
a day. Think of her having to endure that, after having 
already lived through the horror of believing that the man 
she had loved, and sacrificed herself for, was murdered.' 

Meredith looked at James, closely and inquiringly, for a 
moment. This intense comprehension, this almost painful 



CONSULTATION. 173 

truth and excess of sympathy, puzzled him. "While the ex- 
ternal consequences of the discovery which had been made, 
the results to Mrs Baldwin herself, her husband, and her 
child pressed upon his own attention, James was lost in the 
sentimental bearing of the matter, in the retrospective per- 
sonal grief which it must cause to Margaret, estimating her 
feelings at a high degree of refinement and intensity. 
Meredith could not make this out very clearly, but thinking 
' it is just like him ; he always was a strange dreamy crea- 
ture, who never looked at anything like other people,' he 
went on to discuss the subject from his own point of view. 

' That is all very true, Dugdale,' he continued, ' and, aa 
I said before, I really do not see that she need ever know 
more than the fact stated in that paper. But what you and 
I have got to consider, without unnecessary delay, and to 
act upon with all possible promptitude, is this fact : at the 
present moment Margaret is not Mr Baldwin's wife, and her 
daughter, who, if I understand your statement aright, is 
heiress to all her father's property, is illegitimate.' 

' The child would inherit all if there were no son,' said 
James. 

' Precisely so. Now, you see, Dugdale, this is the great 
question. If we can contrive to inform Mr Baldwin of 
what has happened, and get him to break it as gently as 
possible to Margaret, and then have them married privately, 
of course there need not be any difficulty about that ; and 
without an hour's unnecessary delay things may be all right, 
and no one in the world but ourselves and themselves a bit 
the wiser. If the first child had been a son, it would in- 
deed have been a bad, a hopeless business ; but the little 
girl will be no worse off if her mother has a son, and I dare 
say she will have half-a-dozen. Cheer up, Dugdale ; you see 
it is not so black as it looked at first ; there is some un- 



174 



A RIGHTED WRONG. 



pleasantness to be gone through, and then you will see all 
will come right.' 

'Perhaps,' said Dugdale dubiously. The expression of 
pain and foreboding deepened in his face with every moment. 
' But it is a dreadful misfortune. Margaret lives for that 
child ; she loves it wonderfully ; she will break her heart 
over the knowledge that little Gerty is illegitimate, though 
no one in the world but herself should ever know it 

' Nonsense,' said Meredith, ' she will do nothing of the 
kind ; or, if she does, she must be a very different woman 
from the Mrs Hungerford I knew; she must be much softer 
both of head and of heart.' 

'She is a very different woman,' said James, 'and her 
heart is softer. I never saw anything like the influence 
happiness has had upon her, and I dread, more than I can 
express, the change which such a blow as this falling upon 
her in the midst of her joy, and when her health is delicate 
too, may produce.' 

' Her health delicate, is it?' said Meredith. 'Ah, by- 
the-by, you said so when you mentioned her being abroad. 
Another child expected r ' 

'I believe so.' 

' By Jove, that's good news ! "Why, don't you see, Dug- 
dale, that sets it all right. Ten chances to one this will be 
a boy, and there's the rightful heir to the Deane for you ! 
Look here' — he took the memorandum from the table — 'all 
landed property entailed— just so — provision for younger 
children to be made out of funded property, and the very 
large savings of Baldwin's minority and also the savings 
from their income, which are likely to be considerable, as 
the estates are rising rapidly in value — a coal-mine having 
been discovered on the Deane' — he laid the paper down, 
rose, and walked briskly about the room. ' The little pirl's- 



CONSULTATION. 1 75 

position will not be in the least altered. Baldwin must 
settle the money upon her in some special way ; whatever 
her share of the provision made for younger children may 
be, the boy would naturally succeed, and all the difficulty be 
thus gotten over.' 

' How would it be if there were no other child ? ' said 
James. 

' Ah ! that would, indeed, be difficult,' replied Meredith ; 
' I don't know what could be done then. Mr Baldwin is 
not the sort of man to do a thing which certainly would be 
wrong in the abstract, though I cannot see the practical in- 
justice of it ; in the case of there being no other child, of 
course the rightful heir is the individual who would inherit 
in case Baldwin should die without heirs.' 

' Lady Davyntry then,' said James. 

' Baldwin's sister ? Tes — then she is the heir. She is 
not likely to marry, is she ? ' 

' Quite certain not to do so, I should say.' 

'I fancy she would consent to anything that should be 
proposed in her brother's interests — if any proposal on the 
subject should ever become necessary. And after her ? ' 

' I don't know. It must be some very distant relative, 
for I never heard the name mentioned, or the contingency 
alluded to.' 

' Well, well, we need not think about it. In fact, we are 
wandering away altogether from the only subjects we have 
to discuss : the best means of getting the Baldwins home 
without alarming them, and the most expeditious way of 
having them married privately, but with all legal security, so 
that if ever any clue to this unfortunate occurrence should 
be obtained by any one interested, the rights of the heir may 
be secured beyond the possibility of injury.' 

' Tes ; we must be careful of that,' said James ; but his 



176 A EIGHTEB WEONG. 

tone vjas absent, and he was evidently unable to take any 
comfort from Meredith's cheerful view of the circumstances. 
Then, after a short pause, he said, ' I am very ignorant of 
law, but I have a kind of notion that we may be tormenting 
ourselves unnecessarily. I have heard that in Scotland the 
marriage of parents subsequent to the birth of children 
renders them legitimate. Would not this marriage legiti- 
matize little G-erty ? ' 

' Certainly not,' said Meredith, and he almost smiled ; 
' this is a very diiferent case. The truth is, Margaret has 
unconsciously committed bigamy, and when Gertrude Bald- 
win was born, not only was Margaret not Mr Baldwin's 
wife, but she actually was Godfrey Hungerford's. 

James Dugdale shrunk from the words as though they 
had been blows. What was this but the truth which he 
had known from the moment he cast his eyes upon the 
paper which Meredith had put into his hands ? and yet, set 
thus broadly before him, it seemed far more awfal. What 
had become of all the arguments he had addressed to him- 
self now ? Where was the assurance he had felt that fate 
could not harm Margaret ? that evil or calumny, or the 
dead and gone disgraces of her dark days, could not touch 
Mrs Baldwin, in her pride of place, and in her perfect hap- 
piness ? Where were the plausibilities with which he had 
striven to lull his fears to rest ? All gone, vanished, as 
dead as the exultant pleasure with which he had read Mar- 
garet's letter on that bright morning, which might have been 
a hundred years ago, so distant, so out of his sight, did it 
now appear. He covered his face with his hands, and kept 
silence for some time. 

During the interval Meredith paced the room thought- 
fully. When at length James spoke, it was not in continu- 
ation of the last subject. 



CONSULTATION. 177 

' How long did he — Hungerford, I mean — live after you 
saw him ? ' 

' Only a few days. Oakley came to me one morning, 
and told me he was dying, and wished to see me. I went, 
but he was not sensible, and he never rallied again. Then 
I had him buried, rather more decently than in hospital 
style, under his assumed name. Oakley signed this paper, 
as you see. He had no notion I attached any specific value 
or interest to its contents — I believe he thought it an oddity 
of mine, one of my business-like ways, to have everything in 
black and white. But I considered that I might not live to 
tell you this by word of mouth, and in that case I should 
have forwarded the evidence to you ; or you might not live 
to hear from me, and in that case I must have proof to put 
before Mr Baldwin.' 

' You did quite right,' said James. ' Where is Oakley ? ' 

' I gave him a trifle to get up a decent appearance, and 
he was trying to get employment as a clerk or bookkeeper 
in some of the third-rate places of business, when I left,' 
said Meredith ; ' he was rather a clever fellow, though a 
great scamp. Perhaps poverty had steadied him, and he 
may get on. At all events, I have seen too much of suc- 
cessful blackguardism, I suppose — one sees a deal of it in 
colonial life, to be sure — to condemn unsuccessful black- 
guardism to starving.' 

' He is positively the only person in possession of this 
lamentable secret on your side of the world ? ' 

' Positively the only person, and as he knows nothing 
whatever concerning Margaret — not whether she is still 
alive, indeed — and, I presume, never heard her maiden name 
or her father's place of abode, I should not think the slightest 
danger is ever to be, at any time, apprehended from him. 
And now, Dugdale, let us be practical. I am getting tired, 

12 



178 A SIGHTED WRONG. 

and yet I don't want to leave you to-night until we have 
finally arranged what is to be done. Mrs Baldwin would 
have good reason to complain of us, if we left her in her 
present position an hour longer than we can possibly avoid.' 

At this most true observation James winced. His heart 
and his fancy were alike busy, realizing every element of 
pain in Margaret's position. 

After some more discussion, it was arranged between the 
friends that a letter should be written to Mr Baldwin of a 
strictly confidential nature, in which he should be urged to 
bring his wife to England without delay — the pretext being 
left to him to assign — and that James and Meredith should 
meet Mr and Mrs Baldwin in London. No explanation of 
their movements would be required by Mr Carteret, and the 
whole affair of the revelation and the marriage could then 
be quietly managed without exciting suspicion in any quarter. 

' "Well, that's settled, old fellow,' said Meredith as he 
shook Dugdale's hand heartily, ' and we will bring Margaret 
back here as surely Baldwin's wife as she now believes her- 
self to be, and nothing more will ever come out of this busi- 
ness. It looked much uglier at a distance than it does near, 
I assure you.' 

But James made no reply to his friend's cheery speech. 
He went sadly to his room, and sat before the fire pondering. 
The flames flickered and danced, and sent odd reflections 
over his face, but the thoughtful, painful gaze never relaxed, 
the abstraction of the hollow eyes never lessened, and the 
slow-coming dawn of the wintry day found him still there, 
and still thinking, sadly and painfully. 



THE RETURN. 170 



CHAPTEE XVIII. 

THE RETURN. 

jNTo time was lost by James Dugdale in acting upon the 
resolution which had been arrived at by him and his friend. 
The task of writing to Mr Baldwin was one of the most 
painful which it had ever been his lot to fulfil, and as his 
pen traced the lines destined to carry such dismay, to cause 
such irremediable grief to his friend, and to the woman whom 
he had loved so well and so patiently, he thought somewhat 
bitterly of the strangeness of his fate. Twice he had been 
destined to traverse Margaret's path in the bright hours of 
her existence, twice he had been appointed to convey to her 
words of disappointment, of bitterness, of doom. Life had 
given him little, he thought, in proportion to that which he 
had been called upon to suffer. Only one human creature 
was very precious to him, and he was so little to her that 
she would never even comprehend the misery he had to 
suffer, and must still suffer, through her. A general sort of 
spnpathy she would expect from him and recognize, but she 
would never know that he would cheerfully have borne any- 
thing in the shape of suffering that could have been devised, 
to save her from the knowledge of the facts which his hand 
was then recording on the paper so soon to meet and blast 
Fitzwilliam Baldwin's eyes. He had sometimes thought, 
just before her marriage, that Margaret had divined and 
partly penetrated his secret ; but she did not think of it 
now, he felt assured, even if she had. All the fulness and 
beauty of life, all its best and brightest possibilities, had 
been opened to her, had been given to her in such lavish 



180 A RIGHTED WEONG. 

abundance, that her mind had no room for anything outside 
its own felicity. 

Thus James thought ; but in thus thinking he did not 
rightly understand Margaret. Her mind was more capacious, 
her nature was more steadfast, than he knew, and she had 
measured the depth and the strength of his love for her 
more accurately than he guessed, and held it in more dear, 
grateful, and compassionate remembrance than he would 
have dared to hope. At the very time when he was writing 
to her, Margaret, in her sunny Italian home, was thinking 
and talking of James to her husband and to Lady Davyntry, 
who had always entertained much regard for Mr Dugdale of 
an unintelligible nature, for she admitted readily that she 
did not understand him. 

' Nothing could be more acceptable to Grerty's godfather,' 
Margaret was saying, ' than a portrait of Grerty — and of me. 
He shall have the small one we have ordered ; and the large 
one for papa must be begun as soon as we get his answer to 
my last letter. 

' Tou ought to have heard from him before this about it, 
Madge, should you not ? ' asked Lady Davyntry, looking up 
from her work ; ' it is time for a letter.' 

' Not quite, according to papa's measurement, Nelly. He 
generally takes a fortnight to make up his mind about any 
question he is asked, and then another fortnight to put the 
result on paper. I had a letter from James, you know, but 
he said nothing about the picture.' 

' We'll have it begun at once, Margaret,' said Mr Bald- 
win, who was standing by the verandah, looking out upon 
the shining, blue, foam-flecked sea. ' I don't like a thing of 
that kind being put off. I wonder Dugdale does not answer 
for your father. And, by-the-by,' he continued, crossing the 
room, and taking a seat beside his wife, ' they are tolerably 



THE RETUKN. 181 

busy just now at Chayleigh ; it must be about the time of 
Mr Meredith's arrival. "What date did Dugdale mention ? ' 

' He thought about the 25th,' said Margaret. 

As she spoke the colour in her cheek waned, and there 
was a slight change in the expression of her face, which was 
a bright face now, but always mobile and a sure index to her 
feelings j a change which indicated to her husband, on whom 
no look of hers was ever lost, that the mention of Hayes 
Meredith's name had a disturbing effect upon her. He saw 
it, and understood it, and it vexed him, for, not with, her. 

This was the one weakness in Margaret which troubled 
her perfect peace and happiness, and through them his. Not 
all the unequalled contentment of her lot bad power to ob- 
literate the past for her so completely as to deprive associa- 
tion of its power to wound. 

There was one evil which all her husband's love and care 
could not keep quite away from her — the dark shadow of the 
bad bygone days when he as yet had no place in her life. 
She tried hard to fulfil her promise to her husband ; she 
lived for him as truly and completely as ever any woman 
lived for any man, and she was a wonderfully happy human 
being. 

Bat this one weakness clung to her still. The feeling of 
dread, misgiving, reluctance with which she had heard at 
first of Hayes Meredith's intention of coming to England, 
had never changed or lessened. She tried to escape from it, 
to forget it ; she condemned her own weakness much more 
severely than Mr Baldwin condemned it, but there it remain- 
ed all the same, as present as if she had not condemned it 
at all. She had felt that she escaped much by being abroad 
when Mr Meredith should arrive, she had blushed for her 
ingratitude in feeling it, she had persuaded herself that 
when he should have arrived, and she should know that he 



182 A RIGHTED WKONG. 

was in England, this strange, for the present unconquerable, 
feeling might wear off. It must be in a great measure nerv- 
ous, she thought ; it had come upon her so often and op- 
pressively before her child's birth — surely it would vanish 
then. Time had brought her such immeasurably rich com- 
pensation, ' good measure, pressed down, and running over,' 
she had but this one thing more to ask of time, and that 
would come. 

It was on a glorious day, even for Naples, that Eitzwil- 
liam Baldwin, happily alone when it arrived, received James 
Dugdale's letter. Margaret, her child, and Lady Davyntry 
had gone out, intending to remain away for some hours, to 
the villa of friends of Eleanor's, who rejoiced immensely in 
the society of the English family. Mr Baldwin was to join 
them in the afternoon, a sociable arrangement tending to 
rescue the ladies from boredom, without subjecting the gen- 
tleman to the same. 

The writing of the letter which came to the beautiful 
villa by the sea, that glorious day, had been attended with 
difficulties which are not easily described. Partly from his 
knowledge of the man, and partly from the gift of insight 
and sympathy which he possessed in a rare degree, James 
Dugdale could enter into the perplexity and intricacy of the 
trouble of which he was the harbinger, and could follow the 
inevitable workings of Mr Baldwin's mind under the cir- 
cumstances. Meredith had at first proposed that the truth 
should not be told to Baldwin, that he should only be pre- 
pared for important news of an unpleasant character, and 
urged to return as speedily as possible. But James would 
not agree to this. 

' JSTo,' he said, ' the truth must be told, and borne some- 
how ; and a plain simple statement of it to a man like Bald- 
win is the best thing to be done, and will enable him to 



THE KETOBN. l«o 

bear it best. If he is kept in suspense, lie will be unable to 
keep her from suspicion, and that is the great point for him 
to secure.' 

That Mr Baldwin would exert himself to the utmost to 
conceal his feelings until they reached England, James did 
not doubt ; and that he would acquiesce in their view of the 
case he felt assured. "With this view, and in this spirit, the 
terrible letter was written ; how it was read, how the full 
knowledge of the meaning of its contents was endured, no 
human being ever knew. 

In the midst of the great bewilderment which fell upon 
Fitzwilliam Baldwin, while he sat with his eyes fixed upon 
Dugdale's letter, in the midst of the rush of wildly-varying 
but all-painful feeling which took possession of him, two 
things were uppermost in his mind : the one that the news 
which had reached him might be hidden until their arrival 
in England from Margaret, the other that the birth of a son 
would set this dreadful matter right, as far as it was capable 
of rectification. 

As the hours during which he was absorbed in deep and 
agonizing reverie wore away, he saw these two points more 
and more clearly, and began to take comfort from them. 
Dugdale had laid so much stress in his letter upon the cer- 
tainty of the truth being known to no one but Meredith and 
himself, upon the feasibility of such prompt and ready action, 
that it would be necessary only to let Margaret learn the 
need of the second marriage ceremony just before the time 
of its performance, and upon the fortunate circumstance 
that the little one so unintentionally wronged would be 
placed beyond the reach of injury when the expected event 
should have taken place, that the heart-stricken reader could 
not but see the force of his arguments. 

He thought very little of himself in all this. A swift 



184 A RIGHTED WRONG. 

sharp pang of regx*et when lie felt that he had failed in the 
great task he had set himself, the high privilege he had 
striven for — that the woman whom he loved with such love 
as 'his experience told him men very rarely had to bestow, 
was not placed by that love, and all the defences with which 
it had surrounded her, beyond the reach of the stings of for- 
tune — a piercing, agonizing sense of defeat, of failure, — and 
all he suffered in his own person, on his own account, was 
finished and over. But for her, for Margaret — she who, in 
the midst of her happiness, in the summertide of her pride, 
and the security of her good fortune, dreaded the slightest, 
most passing reference to the past, whose sensitiveness and 
delicacy was tortured even now with a sense of degradation 
in the clinging of the old associations of the past — for her, 
he suffered as much as it was in his nature — which had 
largely the faculty of pain — to suffer. 

When the time drew near at which he must prepare to 
meet Margaret, to find himself under her calm, but, where 
he was concerned, keen observation, forced to deceive her in 
fact, and to feign a state of spirits utterly foreign to the truth, 
he started up with a sudden fear that the havoc which had 
been at work within him might have made its mark upon 
his face. He knew that his wife — and when the dear familiar 
word came into his thoughts, he shuddered at the sudden 
realization it forced upon him of the awful truth, she was 
not his wife — that Margaret would detect trouble in his face 
with unerring keenness and certainty. 

He must devise a pretext for their sudden return, Dug- 
dale had said in the letter. Of course, and it must be found, 
must be decided upon, at once. He stood still before a 
mirror and looked at his face. It was pale and haggard, as 
though he had gone through a long illness, and had grown 
suddenly older in it. The pretext which would account to 



THE EETUEN. 185 

Margaret for this face of his must needs be a serious one. 
And if it must, why not make it the true pretext ? Could 
he devise to tell her any trouble, loss, or calamity affecting 
him which she would not share to the full? Were they not, 
indeed, and in the holiest truth of that mysterious tie of love, 
one ? Would she not grieve as much for an imaginary evil, 
if it could thus affect him, as for the real cross which she 
would have to carry ? At first, his wondering gaze upon his 
own changed face in the glass, Fitzwilliam Baldwin thought 
— ' Yes, I may as well tell her the truth ; she cannot take it 
worse than she will take anything affecting me only ! ' 

But, again, a little reflection stopped him. If the truth 
were revealed to Margaret now, it would be so far different 
from any trouble that could, come to them in the ordinary 
course of their united life, that it must sever them. From 
the instant that Margaret should know that she was not his 
wife there would be no more liberty for her, but restraint 
between them, and the action of a feeling which would take 
strong root in her delicate and sensitive mind. No, he must 
guard her, as her warm-hearted but cool-judging friends had 
decided, against the discovery — he should win her forgive- 
ness afterwards for a small deception involving so much to 
be gained in this terrible crisis of their fate. 

He roamed from room to room of the beautiful villa over- 
hanging the sea, and looked drearily around him on all the 
familiar objects associated with their everyday life. They 
were all familiar, true, and yet they were so strange. On 
them all there was the impress of the dreariness and the 
desolation which sweeps in the wake of a great shock, of a 
sudden event after which life can never again be the same, 
over all the soulless things in the midst of which we live. 
These were Margaret's rooms, and she was flitting about 
them when he saw her and them last, and they could never 



186 A EIGHTED WEONG. 

look the same again — neither they nor Margaret. Could it 
be true ? Was it real, or a dream ? 

He stopped and pulled out James's letter, and read it 
again ; and once more the full terrible reality struck him as 
with a palpable physical blow. This, then, was the fulfil- 
ment of that vague dread which Margaret confessed to hav- 
ing felt, that ' superstitious terror ' which had pursued her 
often when her life was fullest of blessings and happiness. 
James Dugdale had not erroneously estimated the confidence 
which he believed to exist between Fitzwilliam Baldwin and 
Margaret. It was thorough, perfect, absolute. There had 
not been a thought of her heart hidden from her husband, 
and therefore he was fully able to comprehend all the depth 
and bearing, the full weight and severity, of the calamity 
which had come upon them. 

"What a mockery was the beauty of the scene on which 
he looked ! What warmth or light was there in the sun- 
shine now — what music was there in the play of the bright 
waves upon the curving coast ? Then he took himself to 
task for weakness. He ought to have stood the shock of 
even such intelligence better than this. Where were the 
strength and manliness which never before had failed him ? 
In other straits and trials of his life he had always mani- 
fested and been proud, after a fashion, of manifesting 
strength and composure ; but in this they failed him. 
Strength had forsaken his limbs, and there was no com- 
posure in the ashen face he looked at in the glass ; for the 
chief weight of this crushing sorrow must fall, not on him- 
self, but on one much dearer— on her whose happiness he 
had set before him as the chief aim and effort of his life. 

There was a common-sense practical point of view in 
which he ought to look at it — the point of view in which 
Dugdale's letter had placed it, the point of view which was 



THE KETUKN. 187 

so much more clearly perceptible to Hayes Meredith than to 
James. After all, the evil was transient, if irreparable ; and 
the proposed precautions, taken with good will and good 
sense, could not fail. But Rtzwilliam Baldwin -was not 
quite master of himself in this crisis ; a touch of the same 
presentiment which had haunted Margaret came now to him, 
and made him tremble before an undefined dread dimly 
looming behind the clear and ascertained truth. 

When he set himself seriously to decide upon the pre- 
text by which he should account to Margaret for the sudden 
change of all their plans, Mr Baldwin was not slow about 
finding one. 

Margaret knew little in detail of the management and 
circumstances of the large property of which she was the 
mistress. This ignorance arose neither from incapacity nor 
from lack of interest, but came solely from a little of the 
' Lady Burleigh ' feeling, combined with the fall occupation 
of her mind in the delights of her home and her household, 
and the idea that she always had time before her for the 
acquisition of a knowledge of what she called ' Fitzwilliam's 
office business.' Lady Davyntry was not much wiser ; in- 
deed, she rather trusted to her brother's knowing all about 
her affairs, and transacting all business relating to Davyntry, 
than troubled herself with inquiring into matters regarding 
the Deane. 

The pretext, then, should be a letter from the factor at 
the Deane, and urgent interests of the property at stake, 
requiring the master's presence. Lady Davyntry, he knew, 
would immediately propose that she and Margaret should 
remain at Naples until Mr Baldwin should have transacted 
his business, to which he must be careful to lend a sufficient- 
ly unpleasant aspect, and be able to rejoin them. But Mr 
Baldwin knew he might make his mind easy on that score. 



188 A SIGHTED WRONG. 

Certain as he was that his sister would make this propos- 
ition — which, under the circumstances, and especially in 
consideration of Margaret's situation, would be eminently 
and palpably reasonable — he was at least as certain that Mar- 
garet would not consent to remaining at Naples if he had 
to leave her. He might safely trust to the gently-maintain- 
ed but perfectly-assured self-will of Margaret under such 
circumstances ; and this confidence reduced the difficulties of 
his task very considerably. 

His plan was all arranged, and the first rush of the sea 
of his troubles had subsided, when he mounted his horse 
(Mr Baldwin's horses were famous in Naples) and rode 
slowly away from the home in which he had been so happy, 
— so marvellously happy it seemed to him, now that the 
disturbing element had come in, — to meet Margaret, feeling 
like a man in a dream. 

' Something has happened ! What is it ? ' said Margaret 
in a whisper to her husband, as soon as he had gone through 
the formalities of the occasion, and she could approach him 
■without being remarked. ' Is there any bad news from 
home ? Is anything wrong with papa ? ' 

' Nothing, my darling. I have been upset by some un- 
pleasant intelligence from Curtis. It is only a matter of 
business ; you shall hear all about it when we get home.' 

' Only a matter of business. Thank God ! But you look 
very ill, Fitzwilliam. Is it anything very wrong ? ' 

' Yes; it may involve me in much annoyance. But I can- 
not say more now. Don't look so anxiously at me ; I am 
not ill, only worried over the affair. Can you get away 
soon ? ' 

' Tes, immediately. I have only to gather up Eleanor 
and baby.' 



THE KETUEN. 189 

She smiled faintly as she spoke, and he returned the 
smile more faintly still. 

' Gather them up, then, and let us go.' 

The few minutes consumed in leave-taking were very 
tedious to Fitzwilliam Baldwin, and his pale face and un- 
controllably absent manner did not pass unnoticed by the 
lady of the house. 

' I am sure there is something the matter with Mr 
Baldwin,' said Mrs Sinclair to her husband, when the 
visitors had departed, a strange sort of gloom accompanying 
their leave-taking. 'Did you notice, William, how ill he 
looked? — just like a man who had seen a ghost.' 

' JNbnsense,' was the uncompromising reply of Mr Sin- 
clair ; ' I dare say he is not well. Tou should not say such 
things before the children, Minnie ; you'll see now we shall 
have- them gravely demanding to be informed what is a 
ghost. What shall you do then ? ' 

' Befer them to you, sir, as the source and dispenser of 
universal knowledge. And it's all very well for you to say 
" nonsense ; " but I am certain something is very wrong 
with Mr Baldwin. However, if there is, we shall soon know 
it. I am sure I hope not, for his sister's sake.' 

' And his wife's, surely ; she is a very sweet creature.' 

'I prefer Lady Davyntry,' said Mrs Sinclair shortly; 
and the conversation dropped. 

Mr Baldwin was perfectly right in his anticipation of the 
manner in which the communication he had to make to his 
' womankind ' would be received by them. Lady Davyntry 
was very voluble, Margaret was very silent and closely ob- 
servant of her husband. 

' AYhat a horrid nuisance, my dear Fitz ! ' said Lady 
Davyntry ; ' and I must say I think it is extremely stupid 



190 A RIGHTED WRONG. 

of Curtis. Of course I don't pretend to understand min- 
ing business, and rights and royalties, and all the rest of it ; 
but I do wonder he needs must bother you about it just 
now, when we are all so comfortable here, and Madge get- 
ting ever so much better. I suppose writing to these odious 
people would not do ? ' 

' No, Eleanor, certainly not,' replied her brother ; ' I 
must go to them, there's nothing else for it ; I saw that at 
once.' 

' Dear, how tiresome ! And how long shall you be away, 
Fitz ? ' 

' It is impossible to tell, Nelly ; and I must start as soon 
as possible. — How soon can you be ready, Margaret ? ' 

There was an extraordinary tenderness in his tone, some- 
thing beyond the customary unfailing sweetness with which 
he invariably addressed her ; a compassionate unconscious 
deference in his manner which thrilled her sensitive nerves. 
She had not removed her gaze from her husband's face 
since he had made the communication which he had promised; 
but she had not spoken a word. Now she said simply, still 
looking at him : 

' I can be ready to start to-morrow, if you are.' 

' To start to-morrow, Madge ! ' exclaimed Lady Davyntry 
in half-angry, half-incredulous astonishment. ' Tou cannot 
mean it. There was never such an idea entertained by Fitz, 
I am certain, as your going.- — Of course you don't mean it ? ' 
And she turned anxiously to her brother. 

' I certainly did think Margaret would come with me,' 
returned Mr Baldwin. 

' I assure you, Nelly,' said Margaret, ' nothing could in- 
duce me to remain here without him.' 

Lady Davyntry was very good-humoured, as she always 
was, but very voluble and eager in her remonstrances. The 



THE RETURN. 191 

discussion was somewhat of a relief to Mr Baldwin, and it 
ended as he had foreseen it would end. Margaret and her 
little daughter would accompany him to England, and his 
sister would remain at Naples. The servants, with the ex- 
ception of the child's nurse, were to be left at the villa. Mr 
Baldwin had remembered that the absence of attendants on 
Margaret and himself would materially contribute to the 
maintenance of that secrecy which was so necessary. The 
simplicity of the personal habits of both rendered their 
travelling without servants a matter of surprise to no one. 

' You are quite sure you will be back in a month, Eitz ? ' 
Lady Davyntry said at the close of the discussion, when she 
had accepted the inevitable with her usual unfailing cheer- 
fulness, and was actually almost ready to think the plan a 
very pleasant variety. ' Tou must, you know, for I don't 
believe it would be safe for Margaret to travel after a longer 
time ; and you know what Cooper said about March in 
England for her chest. And a month will give you time to 
settle all this bothering business. I really think I should 
get rid of Curtis, if I were you, and give Madge plenty of 
time to see Mr Carteret. 1 have some lovely lava to send 
him ; and, Madge, I will let you have the flat knife Signor 
Lanzi gave me, you know — the one they found in Pompeii. 
They say it belonged to Sallust's cook, and he used to slap 
it on the dresser when dinner was ready to be served. Mr 
Carteret would be delighted to have it ; don't you think so ? ' 

' I am sure he would,' Margaret answered absently. 

Lady Davyntry went on : ' Tou mustn't worry about 
this business, Fitz ; it is not like you to bother so about any 
mere matter of money.' 

' It is more than a mere matter of money, Nelly,' said Mr 
Baldwin hastily. ' But there, don't let us talk of it any 
more. — Tou will get ready to start on "Wednesday, Mar- 



192 A RIGHTED WKONG. 

garet ; and, please God, we shall all be here together again 
before long.' 

He left the women together, and went away, pleading 
letters to be written for the mail in the morning. As he 
closed the door, Margaret's quick ear caught the sound of 
a heavy sigh. In her turn she thought what Eleanor had 
said, ' It is not like him to think so much of a mere matter 
of money ; ' for his explanation had not made it clear to her 
that anything more than money was concerned. 

Her sister-in-law talked on and on to her, growing more 
excited by and better pleased with the occurrences of the day 
as she did so, until she finally persuaded herself that no real 
harm, or even permanent unpleasantness, could come out of 
them to her brother. Margaret hardly heard her. Her heart 
was heavy and troubled ; and that night, as she and her hus- 
band stood by the bed where their child was sleeping, watching 
the infant's happy slumber, as was their invariable custom, 
she gathered confirmation of her shapeless misgiving from 
the expression of his face, from the infinite tenderness of his 
tone to her, and the deep melancholy of the look he turned 
upon the child. 

' Is there a shadow, a dread, a skeleton in his past too ? ' 
Margaret mused, when she was alone ; ' and am I about to 
find it out ? I thought there was nothing in all his noble 
history which needed an hour's concealment, or could bring 
a cloud to his face. But I must, as surely I can, trust him. 
If there be more to tell than he has told, — and I think there 
must be, for what is a money risk to him and me ? — it is 
my part to wait patiently until the time comes for me to 
know it. When he thinks it right, he will tell me ; until 
then I ought to be satisfied, and I will. He s-aid the chief 
part of his business would be in London ; I shall hear all 
about it there.' 



THE RETURN. 193 

Calling to her aid her former habit of self-control, — a 
little fallen into disuse in the new and perfect happiness 
of her life, in which it was seldom needed, — Margaret did 
aot embarrass Mr Baldwin by a question, by the slightest 
betrayal that she suspected any concealment on his part ; 
but she said to herself very frequently, in the brief interval 
before the commencement of their journey, ' I shall learn the 
truth in London.' 

The old presentiment which had once haunted her so 
constantly, which had been so readily awakened by the 
merest chimerical cause, of which she had felt guilty, 
ashamed, combating its influence by reasoning upon its in- 
gratitude, its weakness, its unworthiness, had left her, it 
seemed, at this time. No shadow from the brooding wings 
of the terrific truth swept across her soul. 

The journey was commenced at the appointed time, and 
safely accomplished, with as much celerity as was possible 
nearly thirty years ago. 

On their arrival in London, the travellers went to a 
hotel in Bond-street, and Margaret, much tired by the 
journey, fell almost immediately into a sound sleep. They 
had reached London at noon, and it was quite dark when 
she awoke. The glimmering firelight showed her Mr Bald- 
win's figure seated beside her bed, and she awoke to the 
consciousness that he was looking at her with terrible 
intentness. 

' Are you quite rested, my darling ? ' he said. 

' Quite.' 

She answered only one word. The time had come, and 
she was afraid, though still no shadow from the brooding 
wings of the terrific truth swept across her soul. He kissed 
her on the forehead, and rose. Then he said, 

13 



194 A RIGHTED WEONG. 

' Come down as quickly as you can. I asked Dugdal 
and Mr Meredith to meet us in London, and they are here 



CHAPTEE XIX. 

THE IIAERIAGE. 



A silent party was assembled in the large old-fashionei 
room in which Margaret's presence was awaited. On the higl 
mantel clusters of tall wax-candles were grouped, whicl 
failed to light the dusky apartment half-way along its lengtl 
or across its breadth, but threw their lustre around th< 
hearth, covered with a Turkey rug. 

Hayes Meredith leaned moodily against the fluted sid< 
of the grim black-marble chimneypiece, with one foot 01 
the brass fender, and his keen dark glance turned towards 
the glowing red fire. James Dugdale sat in a heavy arm 
chair, his head leaning back against the red-leather cushion 
his long thin fingers grasping the sides of the chair, his face 
always pale, now of an ashen-gray colour, and the nervous 
tremor which pervaded his entire frame painfully evident tc 
the two stronger men. Mr Baldwin paced the room wit! 
folded arms. All three were silent. They had said all that 
was to be said in the absence of her whom their consulta- 
tion concerned so deeply. 

A light tread in the passage outside the door caught Mr 
Baldwin's strained ear. James Dugdale heard it too, but he 
did not move ; he only closed his eyes, and passed his hand 
across his brow. In another moment Margaret was in the 
room, was within the luminous circle made by the light, and 
had advanced towards Meredith. Her face was deadly pale, 
but her eyes were bright, and the old look of resolution 



THE MARRIAGE. 195 

■which he had so often remarked and admired struck him 
once more, with his first glance at her. Her figure was as 
slight and girlish as when he had seen her last, the principal 
change was in the rich dress, now become habitual to her. 

Hayes Meredith tried hard to make his earnest greeting 
as gladsome as it might have been ; to say, ' I told you we 
should meet again — you see I was a true prophet ; ' but 
there was something in her face which made it quite 
impossible. She shook hands with him, and then she turned 
to James, who had now stood up, and laid her hand upon 
his shoulder. Pitzwilliam Baldwin made no sign. The 
worst had come now, and he had very little strength to 
face it. 

' James,' she said, ' is my father dead ? ' 

' Good God, Margaret,' he made answer, catching her 
hands in his, ' no ! What can have put such an idea, such a 
fear, into your mind ? He is quite well.' 

She kissed him on the cheek, and sat down, keeping her 
hand on his arm still, and, slightly turning her head towards 
Baldwin, said in a quiet voice, 

'I know there is something wrong. My husband is 
concealing something from me ; he is right in having con- 
cealed it so far, for he is always right — ' she paused for a 
moment to smile at him, and then Meredith did not know 
the face — he had never seen tliat look in it — ' and he has 
asked you to meet us here and tell me what it is, because he 
cannot bea*r to tell me himself. Well, I will hear anything 
you have to tell me, if it is his wish ' — again she paused and 
smiled at him — ' but he is here, and well ; my father, and 
my child, and you ' — she pressed James's arm with the 
hand that lay upon it — ' are well ; what can there be for me 
to fear so very much that my husband should dread to tell 
it to me himself? ' 



196 A RIGHTED WRONG. 

She turned an earnest, imploring gaze on James, and saw 
the look he directed at Meredith. Baldwin stepped hastily 
towards her, but she stretched her hand out, and shrank 
away from him. The terrible truth was fast swooping down 
upon her now. 

' It does not come from him,' she said breathlessly; 'it is 
the resurrection of the past — it is my old dread — it is bad 
news that you have brought ' — her white face addressed it- 
self to Meredith — 'tell me what it is quickly, for God's 
sake ! I can bear to know it — I cannot bear the suspense.' 

' I will tell you, my dear,' said Meredith ; and he left his 
place, and put his strong arm round her — the other twc 
stood side by side at a little distance. ' It is bad news, but 
not very bad ; the trouble it brings will soon be over, and 
no ill can ever come of it. Do you remember when we 
heard, one night when you were at my house, that Hunger- 
ford had been murdered ? ' 

She started and said, ' Yes, yes.' 

' You recollect the date ? ' 

' Perfectly.' Her voice was hardly audible. 

' He did not meet that dreadful fate, Margaret. He did 
not die thus, or then.' 

' Thank God ! ' she said. And then, in a bewildered way 
she thought for a moment, and cried out, ' He is not dead 
He is not dead ! That is your news — your dreadful news ! 

' No, my darling, no,' said Mr Baldwin, coming to hei 
side. ' It is not so bad as that. Thank God, your fears ar( 
so far beyond the truth. He is dead. We are not parted 
No, no.' 

' No, no,' continued Meredith, still holding her; 'it is no" 
so bad as that. Hungerford is dead ; I saw his body, and ] 
gave it decent burial; but he did not die until long after th< 
time when you believed him dead.' 



THE MAEEIAGE. 197 

' When did he die ?' she asked. The relief was immense; 
but if the news she was to hear was only that, it was rather 
good than bad. ' When did he die ? ' 

Meredith hesitated. Baldwin turned away. 

' Tell me,' she insisted. 

' He died only a short time ago,' said Meredith slowly. 
' He died only a few days before I left Melbourne.' 

She was still standing, upheld by his arm, but she lost 
consciousness for a little as she stood. He placed her 
gently in a chair, and they kept aloof from her, until her 
eyes opened, and she drew a long breath. Then she lifted 
her hand to her forehead, and slowly pushed the hair away 
from it. 

' You are better now ? ' said James. 

' I am quite well,' she said. ' Let me understand this. 
I don't quite take it in. 

' It is better that she should understand all about it at 
once, Baldwin,' said Meredith. ' The shock is over now, 
and time must not be lost. .The only difference this un- 
fortunate affair will make to you, my dear, is that you must 
be married over again.' 

He spoke the words with extreme reluctance, and Mar- 
garet's face crimsoned. 

' What,' she exclaimed, ' do you mean ? ' And then she 
said gently, ' Ah — yes — I see — I understand,' and covering 
her face with her hands she burst into tears. 

Mr Baldwin knelt down by her chair, and gently drew 
one hand from before her eyes. 

' I think you had better leave her with me now for a 
little while,' he said 

The two men went silently away. 

All through the hours of the wintry night, Margaret 



198 A RIGHTED WRONG. 

strove with the anguish that had come on her as bravely as 
she had striven against that which had turned her youth to 
bitterness. But she strove now with a different kind of 
strength, and she had consolation then denied to her. Yet 
even in that consolation there was more sorrow. In the 
past she had stood alone, her grief was hers only, her misery 
troubled no one's peace, or she did not realize that it had 
any outside influence ; she had to fight the battle all alone, 
in patience, in endurance, in defiance, no softening influence, 
no gentle thoughts and blessed hopes to hamper or to aid 
her. The hard material conflict of life had been hers, and in 
her heart the sting of cruel mortification, of bitter disap- 
pointment, disgust, and scorn. 

But she had borne this all alone, and had been able to bear 
it, had come through it somehow, and, if severely wounded, 
had hidden her wounds, now healed by the balm of love and 
happiness. But in this sorrow she did not stand alone ; she 
had the additional misery that it had brought grief upon the 
man who had changed her whole life into gladness, him to 
whom she owed all, and more than realized every dim mis- 
giving she had ever felt when the idea of a second marriage 
presented itself. 

She had seen Meredith and Dugdale again, after her long 
interview with Mr Baldwin had come to an end — an inter- 
view full of exquisite pain to both, and yet stored among the 
most precious memories of their lives — and had learned all 
the particulars of the plan of action upon which they had 
decided. Then she had requested that she might be left 
quite alone, until her presence should be necessary in the 
morning. During this trying time Margaret had success- 
fully maintained her composure, and when she left them the 
three men remained silent for several minutes, under the 
impression produced by her calmness, good sense and 



THE MARRIAGE. 199 

self-control. Meredith was the first to break the silence. 

' How wonderfully she has borne it ! ' he said. ' I never 
hoped she would have taken it like that, though I have seen 
her in great trouble before, and ought to have known what 
she could do and bear when the screw was put on her.' 

' I have never seen her in any trouble until now,' said 
Mr Baldwin — there was a strange kind of pain to him in 
this first association with the man who had seen and helped 
Margaret in the time now again linked so mysteriously to 
the present — ' she does, indeed, bear this wonderfully.' 

' I doubt whether any of us — whether even you — can tell 
what it is to her,' said James, and there was a little impa- 
tience in his tone. 

Who could really know what she suffered but he — he, 
dowered with the power of feeling and understanding grief 
as these two men, so different, and yet in some qualities of 
their organization so alike, were not dowered ? 

The exceptional circumstances had broken down the or- 
dinary barriers which would have shut out the subject, and the 
three talked over the history of Margaret's life in Australia 
fully and freely Hayes Meredith told the others all he 
knew, and from his narrative Mr Baldwin learnt how toler- 
antly, how mercifully, Margaret had dealt with the wretched 
man who had made her youth so miserable, and how, while 
telling him the simple terrible truth as she saw it, there was 
much she had not seen, had failed to understand. And, as 
he listened to the story, and thought how the ghost of the 
horrid past had risen up again to blight her, he felt as if all 
the love with which he had loved her were nothing in com- 
parison with that which filled his heart now ; and he grieved 
purely, unselfishly, for her, as she was then grieving for him. 

Margaret had taken her child into her room. The nurse, 
weary of the journey, was nothing loth to be rid of her 



200 A RIGHTED WRONG. 

charge, and being an honest, stupid, bovine sort of person, 
and therefore admirably suited to her functions, she did not 
trouble her mind about her mistress's movements or remark 
her appearance. The little girl, already strikingly like her 
mother, now slept tranquilly in Margaret's arms, and now, 
when in the restlessness of mental suffering she could not 
sit still, but walked about the room, in a deep chair before 
the fire. 

As the night wore on, Margaret would kneel beside the 
chair, and look at the child by the fire-light, and then stand 
up again, and resume her wandering up and down. Surely 
the dawn was very long in coming. She lived through those 
hours as probably every one in every kind of suffering lives 
through certain supreme hours of that experience ; in alter- 
nate paroxysms of acute anguish, spells of quiet concentrated 
thought, and lapses of dull pain, in which there is a kind of 
confused forgetfulness, wanting little of being quite a blank. 
"When the latter came, she would rock the child upon her 
knees before the fire, or stand idly at the window, the curtain 
held back in her hand, and her face pressed against the cold 
damp panes. 

Memory formed a rack on which she was stretched, until 
her powers of endurance were almost exhausted, and when 
the release came, it was accompanied by the stupor which 
follows terrible physical pain. Every circumstance of her 
past life, every pain in it, from the fiercest pang to the most 
ignominious little insult, came up to her, and gave her a 
deliberate wrench, and above all, the sense of loneliness in all 
this, contradictory though such a feeling was to the general 
tenor of her thoughts, oppressed her. No one could share 
that trouble with her which came from the past — therein she 
must suffer alone. 



THE MARRIAGE. 201 

Then she would force herself to think of the dead man, 
and what he had suffered ; to realize that he had actually- 
been living, and her husband, while she was on her voyage 
to England, while she was living her peaceful life at Chay- 
leigh, while — and at this point in her thoughts she shuddered, 
and a deadly coldness laid hold upon her — while she had 
loved and married another man/ had filled a high position, 
and enjoyed all that wealth, station, and consideration could 
give her. The full horror of her position swept over her 
then, and afterwards came the deadness, the confusion, the 
vain helpless weeping over her child, the natural shrinking 
from what the morrow was to bring, the strange wondering 
sense of a totally false position, of an utterly new and dis- 
turbing element in her life, making all that had gone before 
seem unreal. 

The hardest of all was to know, to make herself believe 
practically, that she, bearing Eitzwilliam Baldwin's name — 
she, the mother of his child — was not his wife. She knew 
how innocently, how unconsciously, she had done this wrong ; 
they had made it plain to her how small its importance 
really was ; but she was oppressed with a sense of shame 
and anguish in reference to it, almost intolerable, even when 
she did not turn her thoughts towards her child. 

When she did not ! That was seldom, indeed ; for, un- 
derlying all the rest, there was the agony of the wrong her 
child had sustained, never to be assuaged, and many times 
during that dreadful night she uttered aloud to the uncon- 
scious infant some of the burden of her soul. The injury to 
her child, the possible touch of disgrace on the stainless 
story of Baldwin's life ; he who, as she said to herself over 
and over again, had lived in unblemished honour before the 
world, he who never needed, never wished to hide thought, 



202 A EIGHTKD WRONG. 

or word, or deed of his, he who so loved her — these consti- 
tuted the almost unbearable agony of the grief which had 
come upon her. 

They had told her whence the remedy for all this evil was 
to be looked for. If the child to be born three months 
hence should prove to be a son, the wrong would be righted ; 
little Gerty would be no worse than if this had never hap- 
pened, for it was not in any reason to be feared that the 
secret should ever transpire. 

' And if my child should not be a son ? ' she had asked 
them simply. 

' Then there would be two to share Baldwin's savings, 
and the unentailed property,' Hayes Meredith had answered 
her, ' and you would have to wait till the son and heir really 
did arrive.' 

She had said no more then, and now, as she mused over 
all that had been said, a passionate prayer arose in her heart, 
that the child for whose birth she now hoped, with feelings 
so widely, so sadly different from what they had been, might 
be a son. If it were so, Baldwin would be satisfied ; the 
sting would be taken out of this calamity for him, though 
for her it never could be. 

James Dugdale was right in the estimate he had formed 
of her feelings, little as she supposed that they were within 
any human ken. She did love little Gertrude wonderfully ; 
and to know her to be illegitimate, to know that she must 
owe her name and place in the world to a concealment, a 
false pretence, was a wound in the mother's heart never to 
be healed, and whose aching was never to be allayed. 

So the hours wore away, and with their wearing there 
came to Margaret an increased sense of unreality. The 
ground she had trodden so securely was mined and shaken 
beneath her feet, and with the stability all the sweetness of 



THE MARRIAGE. 203 

her life had also passed away. In her thoughts she tried to 
avoid the keen remembrance of that beautiful, pure summer- 
time of love and joy, over which this shadow had fallen, 
but she could not keep away from it ; its twilight had too 
newly come. "With keen intolerable swiftness and clearness 
a thousand memories of her beautiful, stately home came to 
haunt her, like forms of the dead, and it was all in vain that 
she strove to believe, with the friends who had endeavoured 
to cheer and console her, that the black shadow which had 
fallen between that home and her could ever be lifted more. 

"When the wintry dawn had fully come, she lay down on 
her bed, with her child in her arms, and slept. One tiny 
infant hand was doubled up against the mother's neck and 
her tear-stained cheek rested on the soft brown curls of the 
baby's hair. 

Margaret's slumber did not last long. She awoke long 
before the time at which she had told Baldwin she would be 
ready. "When she drew back the curtains and let in the 
cold gleaming light, there was as yet but little stir or noise 
in the street, and the shops opposite the hotel were but 
slowly struggling into their full-dressed and business-like 
appearance. She turned from the window, and looked at 
her face in the glass. Was that face the same that had 
looked out at her only this time yesterday ? She could hardly 
believe it was, so ghastly, so worn, so old it showed now. 
She turned away abruptly, and took off her dress, which she 
replaced by a dressing-gown, and shook down her rich hair 
about her neck and shoulders. Presently the child awoke 
and cried, and Margaret carried her to her nurse. She did 
not kiss the child, or look at her, after she had placed her in 
the woman's arms, but went away at once, with her teeth set. 

How horrible, how unnatural, how shameful it seemed 
to Margaret, as she dressed herself in the plainest garments 



204 A RIGHTED WRONG. 

hertravelling trunks supplied, that this should be her wed- 
ding-day, and she was dressing for her marriage ! All the 
painful feelings which she had experienced were concentrat- 
ed and expressed in those terrible, almost incredible words. 
She went through her unaided task steadily, only avoiding 
seeing her face in the glass ; and when it was quite done, 
when her shawl, and bonnet, and gloves were on, she knelt 
down by her bed, with her face upon the coverlet, and her 
clasped hands outstretched, and there she prayed and waited. 

At nine o'clock James Dugdale knocked at the door of 
Margaret's room. She opened the door at his summons 
and silently gave him her hand. 

' Baldwin is in the sitting-room,' he said. ' I see you 
are quite ready. Are you feeling strong ? ' 

' I am perfectly well,' she replied. 

They went down-stairs, and into the room which the party 
had occupied on the preceding evening. Preparations for 
breakfast were in active progress, and two waiters were con- 
ducting them with as much fuss and display of alacrity as 
possible. 

Hayes Meredith greeted Margaret with a cheeful aspect. 
Mr Baldwin merely set a chair for her. Their ' good-mor- 
row ' was but a look, and what a pang this caused Margaret ! 
The servants were not to know they had not met till then. 

To the practical, business-like mind of Hayes Meredith 
the painful matter on hand had not, indeed, ceased to be 
painful, but had advanced so far towards a happy termina- 
tion, which should end its embarrassment positively, and in 
all human probability its danger, that he felt able to be 
cheerful without much effort or affectation, and took upon 
himself the task of keeping up appearances, to which his 
companions were much less equal. He really ate his break- 
fast, while the other three made the poorest pretence of do- 



THE MAEEIAGE. 205 

ing so, and he did the talking about an early shopping ex- 
pedition which had been proposed over-night. 

At length this portion of the trial came to an end in its 
turn, and Margaret, accompanied by James, and followed by 
Meredith and Baldwin, left the hotel on foot. The two 
waiters witnessed the departure of the party. 

'A precious glum lot for a party wot is wisitin' the 
metrop'lis, eh, William ? ' said one to the other. 

' Ain't they just, Jim ! They are swells, though, from 
wot I hear.' 

When they reached Piccadilly Meredith procured a 
hackney-coach, and the silent little company were driven to 
the City. Margaret sat back, leaning her head in the 
corner with closed eyes. The three men hardly spoke. The 
way seemed very long, and yet when the coach stopped, in 
obedience to Meredith's directions to the driver, in a crooked, 
narrow, dirty little street, which she had a confused notion 
was near the great river, Margaret started, and her heart, 
which had lain like a lump of lead in her breast, began to 
beat violently. 

' A few minutes' walking, but by a tortuous way, brought 
them to a shabby little old church, damp, mouldy, and of dis- 
used aspect, and into the presence of a clergyman whose 
appearance matched admirably with that of the building, for 
he, too, was shabby, little, and old, and looked as if he were 
mouldered by time and seclusion. An ancient clerk, who 
apparently combined the clerkly office with those of the pew- 
opener and the verger, was the only other person present. 
Not even a stray boy, not even a servant-girl out on an 
errand, or a nursemaid airing her charges in the damp, had 
been tempted, by the rare spectacle of an open church-door, 
to enter the building. 

A little whispered conversation with the shabby little old 



206 A RIGHTED WEONG. 

clergyman, a paper shown by Meredith, and a ghost-like 
beckoning by the clerk, with intent to marshal the wedding- 
party to their places, and all was ready. The words of the 
solemn marriage-service, which it was so dreadful to those 
two to repeat, which they had spoken once with such joyful 
hearts, were said for the second time, and nothing but the 
signing of the register remained to be done. 

As Mr Baldwin with his wife followed the shabby little 
old clergyman into the vestry, he whispered to Margaret, 

' It is all over now, dearest ; nothing can ever trouble or 
part us more but death.' 

She pressed the arm on which she was leaning very close 
to her breast, but she answered him never a word. 

' Sign your name here, if you please, madam,' said the 
clerk, putting a dirty withered old finger on the blank space 
in the large book which held in such trite record so many 
first chapters of human histories. 

Mr Baldwin had already signed, and was looking at his 
wife with eager attention. He saw the spasm of agony 
which crossed her face as she wrote ' Margaret Hungerford.' 
James Dugdale saw it too. 

When Meredith and Dugdale in their turn had signed 
the register, and Mr Baldwin had astonished the clergyman, 
to a degree unprecedented in his mild and mouldy existence, 
by the magnificence of the sum with which he rewarded his 
services, all was done, and the wedding-party left the church. 
Mr Baldwin and Margaret got into the coach, and were 
driven to a shop in Piccadilly. There the driver, who was 
rather surprised at the novelty of a bridal pair being ' dropped' 
at a shop instead of being taken home in orthodox style to 
breakfast, was dismissed. Mr and Mrs Baldwin returned 
to the hotel, as they had left it, on foot. 



THE MAKRIAGE. 207 

' Let me see — what's the name of the church and the 
parson ? ' said Hayes Meredith to James Dugdale, as they 
stood in the street when the coach had taken Baldwin and 
Margaret away, and the church-door was shut upon them. 

He had an old-fashioned red morocco-leather pocket-book, 
with a complicated clasp, composed of brass wire, open in 
his hand, and he carefully noted down James's reply, heading 
the memorandum with the initials, 

P. M. B. 
M. H. 

' What do you write that down for ? ' James asked him. 

' Partly from habit, old fellow, and partly because I 
never was concerned in so strange an affair before, and I have 
a fancy for reminding myself of it.' 

He had put up the pocket-book as he spoke, and they 
were walking slowly away. 

' I remember well,' said Meredith, ' when I said good- 
bye to her on board the BoomeraDg, I wondered what sort 
of fate awaited her in England. It is a very enviable one 
on the whole, in spite of this little cloud, which I look upon 
as quite blown over. It might have been an ugly business 
if that poor wretch had pulled through in the hospital. 
What a comfort that it has all been so capitally managed, 
isn't it ? ' 

' Yes,' said James absently ; ' how very, very miserable 
she looked ! ' 

' Never mind that — it was natural — it was all so awkward, 
you know. Why, now that it is over, I can hardly believe 
it. But she will be all right to-morrow — the journey had 
something to do with her looks, you must remember.' 

When they reached the hotel they found Mr Baldwin 
alone in the sitting-room. Hayes Meredith had recovered 
his spirits much more than any of the party. He was quite 



208 A RIGHTED WEONG. 

chatty, and inclined to enjoy himself, now that it was possible, 
in the delightful novelty of London. Besides, he judged 
wisely that the less difference the event of the morning 
should be allowed to make in the disposition of the day the 
better. 

Mr Baldwin was ready to devote himself to his guest's 
pleasure, and a pleasant programme was soon made out. 
On reference being made to Margaret she said she would 
remain at home all day, with the child. James, too, pleaded 
fatigue, and did not leave the house. And when the other 
two were gone he thought, ' No one, not even he, knows what 
this is to her so well as I know it.' 



CHAPTER XX. 

SHADOWS. 



On the third day after the quiet marriage ceremony had 
been performed in the City church, Margaret Baldwin, her 
husband, and their child left London for Chayleigh. She 
had been told that her father knew nothing of the revela- 
tion which it had been Hayes Meredith's difficult task to 
impart to her, and she felt that she owed much to the wise 
consideration which had concealed it. In the first place, to 
have enlightened her father would only have been to inflict 
unnecessary pain upon him, and in the second, it would 
have embarrassed her extremely. 

To keep her feelings in this supreme hour of her fate 
as much to herself as possible was her great desire, and 
especially as regarded her father. His pride and delight in 
the good fortune which had befallen her were so great, his 
absolute oblivion of the past was so complete and so satis- 



SHADOWS. 209 

factory, that she would not, if even it could have made 
things better rather than worse for her, have had the one 
feeling disturbed, or the other altered. He had never men- 
tioned her first husband's name to her, and she would not, 
to spare herself any suffering, have had an occasion arise in 
which it must needs be mentioned. So, as they travelled 
towards her old home, there was nothing in the prospect of 
her meeting with her father to disturb her, and the events 
of the week she had just gone through began to seem 
already distant. 

After the day of the marriage, Baldwin had not spoken 
of the grief that had befallen them. If it had been possible 
for him to love her better, more tenderly, more entirely, 
more deferentially than before, he would have done so ; but 
it was not possible. In all conceivable respects their union 
was perfect ; not even sorrow could draw them more closely 
together. [Neither could sorrow part them, as sometimes it 
does part, almost imperceptibly, but yet surely, those whose 
mutual affeetion is not solidified by perfect similarity of 
temperament. 

The gravity of Margaret's character, which had been in- 
creased by the experiences of her life, by the deadly in- 
fluences which had tarnished her youth, had been much 
tempered of late by the cordial cheerfulness, the unfailing 
sweetness of disposition, which characterized Baldwin, and 
which, being entirely free from the least tinge of levity, har- 
monized perfectly with her sensitiveness. So, in this grief, 
they felt alike, and while he comprehended, in its innermost 
depths and intricacy of feeling, the distress she suffered, he 
comprehended also that she needed no assurance of his ap- 
preciation and sympathy. 

The details of business and the arrangements for the 
future which the terrible discovery had made necessary were 

H 



210 A BIGHTED WEONG. 

imparted to her by Hayes Meredith, and never discussed 
between her and Baldwin. She understood that in the 
wildly improbable — indeed, as far as human ken could pene- 
trate, impossible — contingency that the truth should ever 
become known, the little Gertrude's future was to be made 
secure, by special precautions taken with that intent by her 
father. Thus no material anxiety oppressed her for the 
sake of the child, over whom, nevertheless, she grieved with 
a persistent intensity which would have seemed ominous 
and alarming to any one aware of it. But that no one 
knew ; the infant was the sole and unconscious witness of 
the mother's suffering. 

"What intense shame and misery, what incoherent pas- 
sionate tenderness, what vague but haunting dread, what 
foreshadowing of possible evil, had possession of her soul, as, 
her head bent down over the little girl sleeping in her arms, 
Margaret approached her father's house ! 

Mr Carteret was standing at the entrance, and behind 
him, in the shade of the portico, was a figure whom Mar- 
garet did not recognize, and whom she was about to pass, 
having received her father's affectionate greeting, when Mr 
Baldwin said, ' This is Mr Meredith's son, Margaret,' and 
Robert held out his hand. Then she spoke to the boy, but 
hastily, being anxious to get her child and her father out of 
the cold air. 

When the whole party had entered the house, and Mr 
Baldwin and Mr Carteret were talking by the fire in the 
study, Robert Meredith stood still in the hall watching the 
light snow flakes which had begun to fall sparingly, and 
which had the charm of novelty to him, and thinking not 
over-pleasantly of Margaret. 

' A proud, stuck-up fine lady,' the boy muttered, and the 
expression of scorn which made his face so evil at times 



SHADOWS. 211 

came over it. ' I suppose she thinks I don't remember her 
in her shabby old clothes, and with her hands all rough. I 
suppose she fancies I was too a much of a child to know all 
about her when she used to do our needlework, and my 
mother used to puzzle her head to make out jobs for her, 
because she was too proud to take the money as a present. 
I saw it all, though they didn't tell me ; and I wonder how 
she would like me to tell her fine husband or her old fool of 
a father all about it ! I remember how they talked about 
her at home when the black fellows killed Mr Hungerford, 
and my father said they might venture to take her into the 
house now, until she could be sent to England. And my 
lady's too fine to look at one now, is she, with her precious 
self and her precious brat wrapped up in velvet and fur.' And 
the boy pulled off a chair in the hall a mantle of Margaret's 
which had been thrown there, and kicked it into a corner. 

It would be difficult to do justice to the vile expression 
of his handsome face, as, having given vent to this ebullition 
of senseless rage, he again stood, looking through the side 
windows of the hall door for the approach of the carriage 
which was to bring his father and James Dugdale to Chay- 
leigh. The boy's chief characteristic was an extreme and 
besetting egotism, which Margaret had unconsciously of- 
fended. She would not have thought much or perhaps at 
all of the fact had she known it, but from the moment when, 
with a polite but careless greeting to Robert Meredith, she 
had passed on into the house, she had an enemy in the son 
of her old friend. 

'I thought Margaret would be in a hurry home,' said 
the unconscious Mr Carteret, in a sagacious tone to his son- 
in-law, ' when Meredith came. She received much kindness 
from him, and I knew she would like to acknowledge it as 
soon as possible.' 



212 A RIGHTED WRONG. 

' And I too, sir,' said Baldwin. ' What a good fellow 
he is, and a fine hearty fellow ! What do you think of the 
boy ? ' 

' A very fair kind of boy indeed,' said Mr Carteret, with 
unusual alacrity ; ' never requires to be told anything twice, 
and is never in the way. If he is noisy at all, he keeps it 
all for out-of-doors, I assure you. And not ignorant, by any 
means : gave me a very intelligible account of the habits of 
the wombat and the opossum. Really a very tolerable boy, 
Baldwin ; I fancy you won't mind him much.' 

This was warm praise, and quite an enthusiastic supposi- 
tion, for Mr Carteret. Baldwin was much reassured by it ; 
he and Margaret bad been rather alarmed at the contempla- 
tion of his possible sufferings at finding himself alone with a 
real live boy. Baldwin was glad too of the excuse for talk- 
ing about something apart from himself and Margaret. The 
most natural thing for him to say under the circumstances 
would have been, ' Well, sir, and how do you think Margaret 
is looking ? ' but he hesitated about saying it, and was re- 
lieved when Mr Carteret volunteered the opinion that she 
was looking very well, and began to question him about 
their doings in foreign parts. 

Thus the time was whiled away until Meredith and Dug- 
dale arrived, and Margaret, announcing that the child was 
asleep, came to sit with her father. A look from her hus- 
band showed her that all was well, and a look in return from 
her released him. 

The evening passed away quietly. No incident of any 
moment occurred. Mr Carteret displayed no curiosity about 
Meredith's business in London, though he was very con- 
gratulatory concerning the fortunate coincidence of the re- 
turn of Mr and Mrs Baldwin, and very solicitous about the 
danger of James Dugdale's being made ill by the journey 



SHADOWS. 213 

and the excitement of London, which presented itself to Mr 
Carteret in most alarming colours. He had not been in 
' town ' since Mrs Carteret's death, and if, contrary to his 
usual placid habit, he speculated about his own future at all, 
it certainly was to the effect that he hoped he never should 
be there again. 

The old gentleman was in a state of supreme mental con- 
tent just now. He was very happy in all respects, and the 
return of Margaret and Mr Baldwin completed his felicity. 
His daughter's account of her health was very satisfactory, 
and perhaps she need not go abroad again. They spoke of 
going on to the Deane if the weather should not prove very 
severe, and for his part he hoped they would do so. He had 
no great liking for foreign countries, and no strong faith in 
the remedial properties of their climate ; and though he was 
very glad that Margaret had tried Italy and profited by it, 
he should be still more glad that she should decide on stay- 
ing at home. "With a splendid home, every conceivable 
comfort, and improved health, she need not gad about any 
more, especially under present circumstances. 

On the whole, Mr Carteret's state of mind was one of 
enviable contentment on the evening of his daughter's return, 
and as she and her husband commented on it when they were 
alone, they felt that his entire unconsciousness was most 
fortunate. They had nothing to fear from suspicion or in- 
quisitiveness on his part — he was incapable of the one, except 
in the case of a traveller reporting on newly-discovered 
natural objects, or of the latter, except in the case of birds, 
beasts, and creeping things. 

There was one dissatisfied person among the little party 
at Chayleigh on the night of the return. It was Robert 
Meredith. He had not succeeded in discovering the object 
of his father's visit to London. ' I am going to London with 



214 A RIGHTED WEONG. 

Mr Dugdale, for a few days, on particular business,' hist 
father had said to him before they went away. But he had 
not explained the nature of the business, and the boy was 
vexed by this reticence. He had quick, subtle perceptions, 
and he had detected some trouble in his father's mind before 
they left home, and during the voyage. He had a secret con- 
viction that this visit to London, whose object Meredith, an 
open-mannered, unreserved man with every one, and always 
frank and hearty in his dealings with his children, had not ex- 
plained, had reference to this undiscovered source of trouble. 

Robert listened to all the conversation which took place 
during the evening, and closely watched the countenances 
of every one present, but nothing transpired which shed the 
least light on the matter which excited his curiosity. He 
had not failed to remark that, though his father had told 
him all about his correspondence with Dugdale, and how he 
looked to him for advice and assistance in forwarding 
Robert's wishes, as to his education in England and his 
future career, the subject had not yet been discussed, and he 
had been left to amuse himself, and become familiar with the 
house and the surroundings, as best he might. A less shrewd 
and more amiable person than Robert Meredith would have 
imputed this to the pleasure of old friends in meeting after 
a separation of many years, and to the number and interest 
of the subjects they had to discuss. But Robert Meredith 
was not likely to entertain an hypothesis in which sentiment 
claimed a part, and was likely to resent anything which 
looked like a postponement of his claims to those of any sub- 
ject or interest whatsoever. 

To baffle this youth's curiosity was to excite his anger 
and animosity — to make him determined that he would get 
to the bottom of the mystery sought to be concealed from 
him — to fill him with the belief that it must be evil in its 



SHADOWS. 215 

nature, and its discovery profitable. It was to call out in- 
to active display all that was as yet worst in a nature whose 
capacity for evil Margaret had early detected, and concerning 
which his father had conceived many unspoken misgivings. 

' It is almost as if he had come to England about these 
people's affairs, and not about mine,' said Robert Meredith 
to himself. ' I wonder how many more days are to be lost 
before I hear what is to be done about me.' 

Margaret happened to glance towards him as this thought 
passed through his mind, and the expression of his face 
struck her painfully. ' He was a bad child as I remember 
him— a bad, sly, deceitful, heartless child — and he is a bad 
boy. He will be a bad man, I fear.' She allowed these sen- 
timents to influence her manner to Eobert Meredith more 
than she was conscious of — it was polite indeed, but cold 
and distant. 

It would have been depressing to a shy or sensitive per- 
son, but Robert Meredith was neither. He felt her manner 
indeed, and thought with a sneer, that considering the friend- 
ship she professed for his father, she might at least have 
feigned some interest in him. But he did not care. This 
rich woman, of high station and social importance, which his 
colonial notions rather magnified, must befriend him in 
material concerns, and, therefore, how she felt towards him 
was a thing of no consequence whatever. She could not 
dislike him more than he disliked her, for he hated her and 
her fine husband. He remembered her poor, and almost at 
the mercy of his parents for daily bread, and now she was 
rich and independent of every one, and he hated her. How 
had she gained all the world had to give, all he had longed 
for, since in his childhood he had read and heard of the great 
world, and all its prizes and luxuries '{ Only by her beauty, 
only by a man's foolish love for her. 



216 A RIGHTED WRONG. 

The boy's precocious mind dwelt upon this thought with 
peculiar bitterness and a kind of rage. He hated Baldwin, 
too, though with less of personal dislike than Margaret. He 
was the first man whom Eobert Meredith had ever seen with 
whose wealth no idea of effort, of labour, of speculation, of 
uncertainty was associated, and the boy's ambition and his 
avarice alike revolted against the contemplation of a position 
which he coveted with all the strength of his heart, and which 
he knew could never be his. This man, who passed him over 
as a mere boy — this man, who had given wealth and station 
to a woman whom Robert disliked and despised — was born 
to all these good things ; he had not to long for them vainly, 
or to strive for them through long and weary toilsome years, 
with only the chance of winning them at last, which was to 
be his own lot in life. He might live as he listed, and the 
money he should have to spend would still be there. 

Then there was a strife in the boy's mind between the 
burning desire for wealth, and the pleasures which wealth 
procures, and distaste to, revolt against, the toil by which it 
must be earned. In the evil soil of his nature such plants 
were ripe of growth, and he rebelled blindly against the 
inevitable lot which awaited him. Only in the presence of 
Baldwin and Margaret, only in the innumerable trifling 
occurrences and allusions — all strange and striking to the 
colonial-bred boy — which mark the presence and the daily 
habits of persons to whom wealth is familiar, had Eobert 
Meredith been brought to understand the distinction be- 
tween his own position in life and that of persons of assured 
fortune. As he learned the lesson, he also learned to hate 
the unconscious teachers. 

He learned, by the discussion cf plans which he heard 
in the course of the evening, that his father intended to 
visit Mr Baldwin at the Deane, and that he was to be of the 



SHADOWS. 217 

party. The prospect gave him no pleasure. He should see 
this fine lady, then, in her grand home. If he dared, how 
he should like to say a few things, in seeming innocent un- 
consciousness, which should remind her of the time when he 
had seen her in his father's house, and known far more about 
her than she or any one would have believed possible ! The 
impulse to say something which should offend Mrs Baldwin 
grew upon him ; but he dared not yield to it, and his ani- 
mosity increased towards the unconscious individual on whose 
account he was forced to impose restraint upon his spiteful 
and vicious nature. 

Margaret retired early, and as she extended her hand to 
him with a kind ' good-night ! ' the diamonds which spark- 
led upon it caught his attention. Once more she marked 
the sinister look — half smile, half sneer — which came into 
his face. He was thinking, ' I wonder whether you would 
like Mr Baldwin to know about the trumpery ring my 
mother sold for you, and how you cried when you had to 
come to her afterwards, and tell her you had nothing left to 
sell.' 

On the following day the weather was bright, dry, and 
cheerful ; Meredith, Baldwin, and Robert went out early, 
bent on a long walk. During the forenoon Margaret did 
not come down-stairs, but in the afternoYm she went to her 
father's study in search of James. She found him there, a 
large folio was on a reading-desk before him, but it was long 
since he had turned a page. 

' Put this with the letters for post,' she said, handing 
him a packet directed to Lady Davyntry, ' and come out 
with me for a while.' 

James looked at her anxiously. She had a wearied, ex- 
hausted expression in her face, and her cheeks were deeply 
flushed. 



218 A RIGHTED WRONG. 

' You are very tired, Margaret ? ' 

' Tes, I am. I am easily tired now, and I have been 
writing for hours.' 

They went out together, and walked along the terrace 
into the flower-garden, which looked dreary in its desolate 
wintry condition. At first they talked vaguely of trifles, but 
after a while they fell into deep and earnest conversation, 
and Margaret leaned closely on James's arm as they walked, 
now quickly, now slowly, and sometimes she held him 
standing still, as she impressed upon him something that 
she was saying with emphasis. 

The walk and the conference lasted long, and when at 
length the warning chill of sunset came, and James remind- 
ed Margaret of the danger of cold and fatigue, and she yield- 
ed to his counsel, and turned towards the house, traces of 
deep emotion were visible upon the faces of both. 

' I will not speak thus to you again,' said Margaret, as 
they reached the portico ; ' but I have implicit faith in your 
remembrance of what I have said, and in your promise.' 

' You may trust both,' James answered her in an earnest 
but broken voice ; ' I will remember, and I will send for 
Eose Moore.' 

' I am delighted you have made up your mind not to re- 
turn to Italy,' said Mr Carteret a day or two later. 'So 
much travelling would be very unfit for you, and your son 
and heir ought certainly to be born at the Deane.' 



FAMILY AFFAIRS. 219 



CHAPTER XXI. 

IAMILY AITAIKS. 

The eldest Miss Crofton was enthusiastically delighted 
•when the intelligence of Mrs Baldwin's unexpected return 
to Chayleigh reached her, which was on the morning after 
the event. It was very natural that she should like the im- 
portance which she acquired in the small but almost distress- 
ingly respectable circle of society in which she ' moved,' as 
the unaccountable phrase in use goes, from her position in 
regard to Mrs Baldwin. To her the "Willises, &c, looked 
for the latest intelligence concerning Margaret ; to her the 
excellent, if rather too inexorably managing, wife of the 
rector of the parish — a lady known to the population as ' the 
Reverend Mrs Carroll ' — intrusted the task of procuring do- 
nations from Mr Baldwin for a startling number of ' charit- 
able purposes,' and through the discursive medium of her 
letters Haldane conducted his correspondence by proxy with 
his sister. 

The eldest Miss Crofton entertained one supreme ambi- 
tion. It was that she might become Margaret's ' particular 
friend,' confidante, and, eventually, favourite sister-in-law. 
She had not as yet attained any of the degrees of the posi- 
tion to which she aspired, but that slight impediment by no 
means interfered with her assumption, for the edification of 
her friends and the general public, of the completed cha- 
racter. 

She entertained considerable jealousy of Lady Davyntry, 
who was, she argued, in her frequent cogitations on this 
subject, much older than Margaret, and ' not a bit more ' her 



220 A RIGHTED WEONG. 

sister-in-law than she (Lucy Crofton) was destined to be at 
no distant time. She was particularly well pleased to learn 
that Lady Davyntry had not accompanied her brother and 
his wife on their return to England, and promised herself, 
within five minutes of her having learned that Margaret was 
at Chayleigh, that she would make the most of the oppor- 
tunity now open to her. 

It was not altogether, it was indeed not much, from self- 
interest, or any mean variety of that pervading meanness, 
that the eldest Miss Crofton proposed to herself to be ' great 
friends ' with Mrs Baldwin ; there was a good deal of real 
girlish enthusiasm about her, and it found a natural outlet 
in the direction of vehement admiration for the sister of her 
future husband, — admiration not disturbed by any percep- 
tion or suspicion of her own inferiority. Such a suspicion 
was by no means likely to suggest itself to Lucy Crofton in 
connection with any one, especially at the present interest- 
ing and important epoch of her life — for she knew, as well 
as any young lady in England, how to exploiter the great 
fact of being ' engaged.' 

As for Margaret, she liked the pretty, lively, passably 
well-bred girl well enough for her own, and was resolved to 
like her better, and to befriend her in every possible way, 
for her brother's, sake ; but a missish intimacy of the kind 
which Lucy longed for was completely foreign to her tastes 
and habits. "While Lucy Crofton pleased herself by com- 
menting on the similarity between them in point of age, 
Margaret was trying to realize that such was actually 
the case, trying to realize that she had ever been young, 
putting a strong constraint upon herself to turn her mind 
into the same groove as that in which the girl's mind ran. 
Between herself and all the thoughts, plans, hopes, and 
pleasures of girlhood lay a deep and wide gulf, not formed 



FAMILY AFFAIRS. 221 

alone of the privileges and duties of her present position, not 
fashioned by her unusual gravity and strength of character, 
but the work of the past; — an enduring monument of the 
terrible truths which had sent her of late a terrible me- 
mento. 

Thus it happened that when Margaret received a note 
profusely underlined, and crowded with interjections, super- 
latives, all kinds of epistolary explosives from the eldest Miss 
Crofton, announcing her intention of coming a little later to 
pass a ' delightful long afternoon ' with her darling friend, 
she experienced a sudden accession of weariness of spirit 
which communicated itself to her aspect, and attracted the 
attention of her father, who immediately asked her if any- 
thing ailed her. 

' Nothing whatever, papa,' replied Margaret ; and in- 
formed him after a minute or so that Lucy was coming to 
see her. 

Provided Lucy did not come to Chayleigh accompanied 
by her wonderfully clever little brother, and did not pester 
him with questions intended to evince her lively interest in 
his collection, which, however, manifested much more clearly 
her profound ignorance of all its components, Mr Carteret 
was perfectly indifferent to her movements. She did not 
interest him, but she was perfectly respectable, eligible, and, 
he understood, amiable ; and if she interested Haldane, that 
was quite enough for him. A simple sincerity, which never 
degenerated into rudeness, characterized Mr Carteret ; and 
he perfectly understood the distinction between saying what 
he did not think and leaving much that he did think unsaid 
— a useful branch of practical science, social and domestic. 
So he made no comment on Margaret's reply. 

But Hayes Meredith, who had not yet seen Captain 
Carteret's future bride, was rather curious about her, and 



222 A RIGHTED WRONG. 

addressed a question concerning her to Margaret, which 
she, being in an absent mood, did not hear. Mr Baldwin 
answered promptly and expansively, giving Lucy Crofton 
praise for good looks, good manners, good abilities, and good 
temper. The three men went on to talk of Haldane, his 
promotion, his general prospects, and the time fixed for his 
marriage, which was not to take place until the autumn. 
During this conversation Margaret rose from the breakfast- 
table, and stood thoughtfully beside the fire, and Robert 
Meredith employed himself in listening to the talkers and 
watching her face. 

' Amiable creature ! ' he thought — and the sneer which 
was strangely habitual to so young a face settled upon his 
lips as he thus mentally apostrophized her — ' you don't care 
a pin for the girl ; you are bored by her coming here, and 
she's a long way prettier than ever you were, fine lady as 
you think yourself.' 

Then, as Margaret looked up, with a bright flush on her 
face, with the air of one who suddenly remembers, or has 
something painful or embarrassing suggested by a passing 
remark, the boy thought — 

' I shouldn't wonder if she's jealous of this pretty girl, 
who has always been a lady, and knows nothing about the 
low life and ruffianism she could tell her of.' 

Wide of the mark as were the speculations of the boy, 
in whose mind a dislike of Margaret, strong in proportion 
to its causelessness, had taken root, he was not wrong in 
assigning the change in Margaret's expression from reverie 
to active painful thought to something in which Lucy Crof- 
ton was concerned. 

She had been informed of her brother's plans ; but in the 
strangely combined . distraction and concentration of her 
mind since her trouble had fallen upon her — trouble which 



FAMILY AFFAIRS. 223 

each day was lightening for removing from her husband — 
she had almost forgotten them, she had never taken them 
into consideration as among the circumstances which she 
must influence, or which might influence her. The words 
which had roused her from her reverie reminded her she had 
something to do in this matter. 

' Why is Haldane's marriage put off till the summer ? ' 
she said. 

' It is not put off,' said James. ' There never was any 
idea of its taking place sooner, that I know of; — was there, 
sir?' 

' No,' said Mr Carteret, ' I think not. — Indeed, Margery, 
I fancy it was so settled with a view to your being at home 
then. We did not think you would come home so soon, 
you know.' 

' When is Haldane coming here, papa ? ' 

' Very soon. Early next month he hopes to get leave.' 

Margaret said no more, and the party shortly afterwards 
dispersed for their several morning avocations. 

James Dugdale's attention had been caught by Mar- 
garet's look and manner when she spoke of her brother's 
marriage. He discerned something painful in her mind in 
reference to it, but he could not trace its nature, and he 
could not question her just then. 

Margaret went to her room, and seated in her old place 
by the window — its floral framework bore no blossom now — 
thought out (he subject which had come into her mind. 

Miss Crofton arrived punctually, and found the draw- 
ing-room into which she was shown — very much against her 
will, for she would have preferred a tumultuous rush up- 
stairs, and the entree to the nursery region — occupied only 
by Eobert Meredith. They had met during Hayes Meredith's 



224 A SIGHTED WRONG. 

expedition to London, and Lucy, though an engaged young 
lady, and therefore, of course, impervious to the temptations 
of coquetry, had perceived with quite sufficient distinctness 
that this 'remarkably nice boy,' as she afterwards called 
him, thought her very pretty, and found her rattling, rapid, 
girlish talk — which had the delightful effect of setting him 
quite at his ease — very attractive. 

Nothing could be more ridiculous, of course ; but then 
nothing was more common than for very young persons of 
the male sex (somehow, Miss Lucy avoided calling him a 
' boy ' in her thoughts) to ' take a fancy ' to girls or women 
much older than themselves ; and in some not clearly-ex- 
plained or distinctly-understood way, it was supposed to be 
very ' safe ' for them to do so. She had no objection to the 
admiration even of so young an admirer as Robert Meredith, 
and she was pleased as well as amused by the candid and 
unequivocal pleasure which Robert manifested on seeing 
her. The youthful colonial did not suffer in the least from 
the disease of shyness, and was pleasantly unembarrassed in 
the presence of the eldest Miss Crofton. 

The two had had time to talk over the unexpected return 
of Mr and Mrs Baldwin ; and Miss Crofton, who was by no 
means deficient in perception, had had an opportunity of 
observing that her young admirer did not share her en- 
thusiasm for Margaret, but was, on the contrary, distinctly 
cold and disdainful in the few remarks which he permitted 
himself to make concerning her, before Margaret made her 
appearance. When she did so, and Miss Crofton had started 
up and rapturously embraced her, that young lady and 
Robert Meredith alike remarked simultaneously that she 
was startlingly pale. 

After a great many questions had been asked by Lucy 
and answered by Margaret, in whose manner there was an 



FAMILY AFFAIRS. 225 

indefinable change which her friend felt very soon, and 
which puzzled her, Margaret took Miss Crofton up-stairs 
for an inspection of little 'Gertrude and the 'thoroughly- 
confidential ' talk for which Lucy declared herself irre- 
pressibly eager. 

' If she knew — if she only knew — this pure, harmless 
creature,' Margaret thought, with a pang of fierce pain as 
Lucy Crofton hugged the child and talked to her, and ap- 
pealed to the nurse in support of her admiration, for which 
Gerty was poutingly ungrateful, — ' if she did but know 
how it has been with me since we last met, and how it is 
with my child ! ' 

'You are shivering, Margaret. You seem very cold. 
Let me poke the fire up before we settle ourselves. And 
now tell me all about yourself, how you really are ; of 
course one could not ask before that young Meredith. I 
want to see his father so much. Ly-the-by, Haldane told 
me you knew him so well in Australia. You don't look 
very well, I think, but you are much stronger than when 
you went abroad.' 

' I am much stronger,' said Margaret. ' But before I 
talk about myself, and I have a deal to tell you,' — Miss 
Crofton was delighted, — ' I want to talk to you about your- 
self and Haldane.' 

Miss Crofton was perfectly willing to enter on so con- 
genial a subject, and she told Margaret all about the ar- 
rangements, which included many festive proceedings, to 
which the girl naturally attached pleasurable anticipations. 
"When she had reached that portion of the programme which 
included the names and dresses of the bridesmaids, she 
stopped abruptly, and said with some embarrassment : 

' Why do you look so grave, Margaret ? — is anything 
wrong ? ' Then she added, before Margaret could speak, 

15 



226 A RIGHTED WEONG. 

' Ah, I know, you don't like a gay wedding ; I remember 
how quiet your own was ; but, you see, it would seem so odd 
if mine wasn't gay, and besides, I like it ; it's not the same, 
you know.' 

' I know, dear,' Margaret said very gently, ' it is not at 
all the same thing, and I can quite understand your wishing 
to have a gay wedding. But I want you to listen to me, 
and to do what I am going to ask you. It is something in 
which you can do me a great service.' 

This was delightful, this was being the ' great friend,' 
indeed this was very like being the favourite sister-in-law. 
So Lucy promptly knelt down by Margaret's chair, and 
putting her arm round her, assured her, with much emphasis, 
of her readiness to do anything she could for her pleasure. 

There was a short pause, during which Margaret looked 
at the girl with a grave sweet smile, and took her disengaged 
hand ; then she spoke : 

' Haldane is coming here very soon, my father £ells me. 
"What leave has he got ? ' 

' A month.' 

' Now, Lucy, don't be astonished, and don't say no at 
once. I want you to be married during his leave, instead of 
waiting until the autumn.' 

' Margaret ! "Why ? ' asked Lucy, in a tone which fully 
expressed all the surprise she had been requested not to feel. 

' I will tell you, Lucy. In a short time I am likely to 
have another baby. Tou did not know that, at least you 
did not know it was to be so soon ; and I am very, very 
anxious — so anxious, that if I cannot have my own way in 
this it will be very bad for me — that your marriage should 
be over before a time comes when I may be very ill — you 
know I was very ill indeed after Grerty's birth.' 

' I know,' said Lucy, still with the surprised look. 



FAMILY AFFAIRS. 227 

' A nd I feel sure, dear Lucy, that if you are not married 
until the summer I shall not be here.' 

' Not be here, Margaret ! Tou surely do not mean — ' 

' I mean nothing to frighten you, Lucy, but I do mean 
this. I have not been well lately, and I have been sent 
away as you know ; I ought not to be here now, the doctors 
would say— but it cannot be helped ; we were obliged to 
come to England, and I may be sent away again, and not be 
able to go to your wedding. In short, Lucy,' and here Mrs 
Baldwin lost her composure, ' I have set my heart on this. 
Will you make the sacrifice for me ? will you put up with a 
much quieter wedding, and go and spend your honeymoon 
at our villa at Naples ? ' 

' I don't know what to think,' said Lucy ; ' I would do 
anything you liked, but it does not quite depend upon me ; 
there's papa and mamma, and Haldane, you know.' 

' I fancy Haldane will not object to your marriage being 
hurried a little,' said Margaret, with a smile ; ' and I have 
generally understood that Miss Lucy Crofton contrives to 
get her own way with papa and mamma.' 

Margaret was very unlikely to remember her own im- 
portance out of season ; but it was not unseasonable that 
she should think of it now, and feel comforted by the assur- 
ance that Mr and. Mrs Crofton would probably yield to any 
very strongly urged wish of hers. < 

Lucy laughed a little — the imputation of power over 
anybody was not unpleasing to this young lady, who, after 
a fashion which had not hitherto developed into unamiability, 
dearly loved her own way. 

' But Lady Davyntry is at Naples,' she said in a tone 
which was very reassuring to Margaret, who felt that the 
chief question was virtually disposed of, and details only now 
remained to be mastered. 



228 A SIGHTED WRONG. 

' She is ; but I am going to ask her to come home, since 
I find I cannot return. "We must go to the Deane soon, if 
you will only be good, and let things be arranged as I wish. 
I need not go until after your wedding ; but my husband 
and I wish that the child should be born at the Deane.' 

' Of course,' assented Lucy, ' and you want it to be a boy, 
don't you, Margaret ? ' 

' Yes, we hope it may be a boy.' 

' Well, whether it is a boy or a girl, I must be its god- 
mother. Tou will let that be a promise, won't you ? ' 

A long conversation ensued, and Lucy bade Margaret 
farewell until the morrow, with a delightful consciousness 
that she had achieved the position she had so much desired. 

Margaret told Mr Baldwin her wish with regard to 
Haldane's marriage, and the steps 3he had taken towards 
its fulfilment. He found no fault with it, but failed to com- 
prehend her reasons. 

' I can understand your dislike of the kind of wedding 
the Croftons would have been likely to institute,' he said ; 
' but you might have escaped it on the plea of your health.' 

' No,' she replied, 'I could not do that — I could not hurt 
the feelings of all these good people, and I could not endure 
the wedding. Even as it will be now, think how painful it 
must be to me.' 

Her husband understood all those simple words implied, 
but he passed them over unnoticed. It grieved him inex- 
pressibly to observe that Margaret had not shaken off the 
impression of the occurrence from which his own happy, 
hopeful nature had rallied so much more quickly. 

' I know, my darling, I know — and, indeed, I ought not 
to have asked you for a reason, because you are the least 
fanciful of women — it would be true masculine logic to refuse 
to aid you in one fancy, but I am not going to be logical 



FAMILY AFFAIRS. Z'ld 

after that fashion. I will write to Haldane, and get every- 
thing settled.' 

Accordingly, everything was settled. Mr Carteret was 
acquiescent as usual, and with his customary politeness con- 
gratulated himself on the presence of Mr Meredith and his son 
on so interesting an occasion. The Croftons were benignant. 
Dear Mrs Baldwin had made such a point of their daughter's 
profiting by her villa at Naples, and had set her heart so 
completely on the matter, and, of course, dear Mrs Baldwin 
must just now be considered in everything. Haldane was 
delighted, and all went well. 

' Margaret,' said James Dugdale, when all had been 
arranged, ' why is this fixed idea always present with you ? 
Can you not shake it off? Ever since you came home I 
have been watching you, and hoping that you were yielding 
to the influence of time ; but I see now, since you have set 
yourself to arrange Haldane' s marriage, that this is a vain 
hope. Why is it, Margaret ? ' 

' You ask me why it is ? ' she replied. ' Tou — can you 
say it is not in your own mind also ? Can you say that you 
ever really believed that I could get over the thing that has 
befallen me ? Tou may call it superstition, and no doubt it 
is so. I fancy such a youth as mine is fruitful ground for 
the sowing and the nurture of superstition, if such be the 
sense of doom, of an inevitable fate hanging over me ; but 
it is stronger than I, and you know I am not generally weak, 
James. It is always there, — always before me, — I can see 
nothing else, think of nothing else.' 

' I know, dear, I know ; but when your health is strong- 
er — believe me, Margaret, I do not wish to mock you with an 
assurance that you can ever quite get over what has happen- 
ed — when your child, the son and heir, is born, you will be 
better ; you will wonder at yourself that you allowed such 



280 A RIGHTED WEONG. 

sway to these dark forebodings. Think of all you have to 
make you happy, Margaret, and don't, don't yield to the 
presentiment which is due to your health alone.' 
She laid her hand on his arm with a smile. 
' Supposing it be so, James ; supposing all I think and 
feel — all the horrors which come to me in the night-watches, 
all the memories perfectly distinct in their pain, whereas I 
could not recall an hour of the brief happiness I ever knew 
in my days of delusion — supposing all this to be a mere 
groundless state of suffering, and you know better ' — here 
her clear gray eyes looked at him with an expression of in- 
effable trust and compassion — ' what harm have I done ? If 

■ I live, this marriage may as well be over ; and if I die, I 
have spared my husband and my father one sharp pang, at 
any rate. Haldane would be very sorry, but he would 

> want to be married all the same, and it would be hard upon 
Pitzwilliam and my father.' 

' And me ? ' he asked her, as if the question were wrung 

i from him by an irresistible impulse of suffering. 

Her hand still lay upon his shoulder, and her clear gray 
eyes, which deepened and darkened as she slowly spoke, 
still looked steadily into his. 

' And you, James. No, I have no power to save you a 
pang more or less; it would not make any difference to you.' 
There was a strange cruel satisfaction to him in her 
words. It was something, nay, it was very much, that she 
should know and acknowledge that with her all that had 
vital interest for him began and ended, that the gift of his 
heart, pure, generous, disinterested, was understood and ac- 
cepted. There was silence between them for some time, 
and then they talked of more general subjects, and just be- 
fore their interview came to an end their talk turned upon 
little Gertrude. 



FAMILY AFFAIRS. 231 

' You will always love her best, James ; both my chil- 
dren will be dear to you,' said Margaret, 'but you will always 
love her whom her mother unconsciously wronged best.' 

Lady Davyntry made her appearance at Davyntry in due 
season, and the set of Neapolitan coral, which she brought 
as her contribution to the worldly goods of the bride, was 
so magnificent, that Lucy could not find it in her heart to 
cherish any such unpleasant sentiment as jealousy against 
Eleanor, and determined that the ' great friend's ' scheme 
should extend to her also. 

The return of her sister-in-law was a great pleasure, but 
also a great trial for Margaret. Her presence renewed 
painfully the scene of secret humiliation, of severance from 
those who had nothing to hide, from which she had already 
suffered so much ; and the phantoms of the past came forth 
and swarmed about her, as Eleanor overwhelmed her with 
caresses, and declared her delight at being once more with 
her, and her vivid perception of the improvement in 'baby.' 

The most unsuspicious and unexacting of women, Eleanor 
Davyntry had been so perfectly satisfied with the reasons 
assigned by her brother for his return to England, that it 
never occurred to her to ask him a question on the subject. 
She was very eloquent concerning the beauty of the season 
at Xaples, assured Haldane that she had left everything in 
perfect order for the reception of his bride, and wound up a 
long and animated monologue by informing Margaret that 
she had brought with her the unfinished portraits. 

' What a pity ! ' interrupted Baldwin ; ' they may be in- 
jured, and surely you knew we intended to return.' 

' Tes, I did,' said Eleanor, ' but I thought Mr Carteret 
would like to see them as they are, and I never reflected 
that they might be injured.' 



232 A EIGHTED WRONG. 

The few days which followed the arrival of Lady Davyn- 
try were full of the confusion and discomfort which ordin- 
arily precede a wedding, even on the quietest scale. The 
Merediths, father and son, had gone to Oxford, where 
Hayes Meredith had one or two old friends among the 
University authorities. They were not to return until the 
day before the wedding. *Mr Carteret was rather 'put out' 
by the inevitable atmosphere of fuss and preparation, and 
Margaret devoted herself as much as possible to him, passing 
in his study all the time she could subtract from the de- 
mands of the bride-elect and her brother. Mr Baldwin was 
much with Lady Davyntry, and James Dugdale kept himself, 
after his fashion, as much as possible to himself. 

On the day before that fixed for Haldane's marriage all 
the inmates of Chayleigh were assembled, and Lady Davyn- 
try was of the party. They had been talking cheerfully of 
the event anticipated on the morrow, and Eleanor had been 
expressing her fears that Mr Carteret would feel very lonely 
after his son's departure — fears which that placid gentleman 
did by no means entertain on his own account — when Hayes 
Meredith and Robert arrived. The evening passed away 
rapidly, and the little party broke up early. Meredith 
joined Dugdale in his sitting-room, and the friends proceeded 
to the discussion of the business on which Hayes Meredith 
had come to England. "With two exceptions they adhered 
strictly to this one matter. The first was of a trifling nature- 

' Did you happen to see my pocket-book anywhere 
about ? ' Meredith asked. 

' No,' said Dugdale ; 'you mean your red-leather one, I 
suppose ? ' 

' Yes.' 

' I have not seen it, or heard of its being found in the- 
house.' 



FAMILY AFFAIRS. 233 

' I must have lost it on our journey to Oxford, I suppose,' 
said Meredith. ' It's of no consequence ; there was no 
money in it, and nobody but myself could understand the 
memoranda.' 

The second exception was of a graver kind ; it, too, arose 
on Meredith's part. 

' I am sorry to see Margaret looking so ill,' he said. ' I 
was very much struck by her looks this evening. Has she 
been looking so ill as this since I saw her last ? ' 

' lso' replied James ; 'she has over-exerted herself lately, 
I fancy, and she has never gotten over the shock.' 

' Has she not ? ' said Meredith quickly. ' That's a very 
bad job ; very likely to tell against her, I should think. 
Isn't it rather weak of her, though, to dwell so much as to 
injure her health on a thing that is of so little real conse- 
quence, after all ? ' 

' I suppose it is,' said James ; and he seemed unwilling 
to say more. 

But the matter had evidently made an impression on 
Meredith, for he said again, 

' I thought her looking very ill, feverish, and nervous, and 
quite unlike herself. Do you think Ealdwin perceives it ? ' 

' No,' said James shortly, ' I don't think he does. Mar- 
garet never complains.' 

' "Well, well, it will all be right when the heir to the 
Deane comes to put an end to uncertainty and fear, if she 
has any.' 

And then he led the conversation to his own affairs. 

" I like your friend so much, Madge,' said Lady Davyn- 
try to Mrs Baldwin, as the sisters-in-law were enjoying the 
customary dressing-room confabulation. ' He is such a 
frank, hearty, good, fellow, and not the least rough, or what 



234 A RIGHTED WKONG. 

we think of as " colonial," in his manners. "What a pleasure 
it must have been to you to see him again ! ' 

' Yes,' said Margaret absently. 

' How tired your voice sounds, darling ! you are quite 
knocked up, I am afraid. Tou must go to bed at once, and 
try to be all right by to-morrow. I delight in the idea of a 
wedding ; it is ages since I have been at one, except yours. 
What sort of a boy is Mr Meredith's son ? ' she continued, 
in a discursive way to which she was rather prone ; ' he 
looks clever.' 

' He looks knowing,' said Margaret, ' more than clever, I 
think. I don't like him.' 

' If she knew — if she, too, only knew,' ran the changeless 
refrain of Margaret's thoughts when she was again alone, 
' if she could but know what I have lived through since she 
saw me last ! "What a change has fallen on everything — 
what a deadly blight ! How hard, and how utterly in vain, I 
strive against this phantom which haunts me ! If I had but 
listened to the warning which came to me when I found out 
first that he loved me, the warning which her words and the 
yearning of my own weak heart dispelled ! If I had but 
heeded the secret inspiration which told me my past should 
never be taken into any honest, unsullied life ! And yet, O 
my God, how happy, how wonderfully, fearfully happy I 
was for a while — for happiness is a fearful thing in this per- 
ishing world. Would I have heeded any warning that bade 
me renounce it ? Could I have given him up, even for his 
own sake ? ' 

She rose and paced the room in one of those keen but 
transient paroxysms of distress which, all unknown by any 
human being, were of frequent occurrence, and which had 
not quite subsided when her husband came into her dressing- 
room. 



' Margaret,' he said to her gravely, when he had elicited 
from her an avowal of some of her feelings, ' you are bringing 
this dead past into our life yourself, as no other power on 
earth could bring it. Do you remember when you promised 
to live for me only ? Can you not keep your word ? This 
is the trial of that faith you pledged to me. Is it failing you ! ' 

' No,' she said, ' no, it is not failing, and I can keep my 
word. But ' — and she clasped her arms around his neck 
and burst into sudden tears — ' my child, my child ! ' 



CHAPTER XXII. 

mabgabet's pbesentihent. 



That noun of multitude, 'the neighbourhood,' was at 
first disposed to take it very ill that the wedding of the 
eldest Miss Crofton should be despoiled of any of its con- 
templated gaiety and display, by what it was pleased to call 
the ' airs which Mrs Baldwin gave herself.' It bethought 
itself of Margaret's marriage, and arrived at the very probable 
conclusion that she was disposed to be a little jealous of her 
sister-in-law elect, and not disposed to allow her to ' have a 
fuss made about her ' if she could help it. 

Poor Mrs Crofton found her explanations and apologies 
coldly received ; which distressed her, for she was a slave to 
conventional observances, and visited and received visits with 
exasperating regularity, and Mrs Baldwin's popularity de- 
clined. But not permanently ; when it was understood that 
her return to the Deane was desirable for a reason which 
everyone understood, and whose force all recognized, opinions 
were modified, and general good-humour was restored. 

The preparations for the wedding went on, and nothing 



236 A RIGHTED WRONG. 

was wanting to the cheerfulness and content of all concerned, 
except less inquietude regarding Margaret. They re- 
membered afterwards that it happened so frequently that, 
when they came to think of it, they were amazed that the 
circumstance had not impressed them more deeply at the 
time : that when any two of the small party at Chayleigh 
met, one would say to the other, ' How ill Margaret looks 
to-day ! ' or, ' She is looking better to-day ; ' or, ' She seems 
hardly so well, I think ; ' the phrases varying widely, but 
each conveying the fact that Margaret's looks and health, 
Margaret's spirits and general demeanour, were in some form 
or other the objects of general attention, and were altered 
from their ordinary condition. 

Mr Carteret's solicitude about her was fitful, and easily 
tranquillized. He would question her anxiously enough 
when she came down to breakfast in the morning, and be so 
uneasy and unhappy if she did not come down, that, per- 
ceiving that circumstance, she was rarely absent from the 
breakfast-table. But when the day advanced, and Margaret 
began to look brighter, he would remark that she ' had got 
some colour now, and looked quite herself again,' and, with 
the inconsequence which is frequently observable among 
persons who are constantly in the presence of even the most 
beloved objects, he failed to notice how often she required 
to ' look quite herself again,' in order to remove his transient 
uneasiness. 

She looked very handsome at this time ; handsomer than 
she had ever looked, even at the period when people had 
first found out that there was no great exaggeration in calling 
Mrs Baldwin ' a beauty.' The broad brow, the sweet serious 
lips, which kept all their firmness, but had less severity than 
in the old time, the large sensible gray eyes, the delicate 
face, which had never had much colour, and now had per- 



Margaret's presentiment. 237 

manently less, wore a spiritualized expression which made 
itself felt by those who never thought of analyzing it. 

Among the number were the Croftons, Hayes Meredith, 
and Lady Davyntry. Mr Baldwin was not so blind. He 
saw that a change, which impressed him painfully, had come 
over the face and the spirit of the woman whom he loved more 
and more with every day of the union which had hitherto sur- 
passed the hopes he had built upon it in happiness, and the 
only mistake he made was in believing that he quite under- 
stood that change, its origin, its nature, and its extent. 
He knew Margaret too well, had been too completely the 
confidant of her misgivings and hesitations previous to their 
marriage, and of the relief, the peace, the rehabilitation 
which had come to her since, to under-estimate the severity 
of the blow which had fallen upon her ; but there was one 
aspect of her trouble in which he had never regarded it, in 
which it was her earnest desire, her constant eifort, that he 
should never see it. 

He had no knowledge of the presentiment under which 
Margaret laboured ; he had never suspected her of such a 
weakness ; and if it had been revealed to him, he would have 
unhesitatingly referred it to the condition of her health, 
have pronounced it a passing nervous affection, and dis- 
missed it from his thoughts. He had never heard her ex- 
press any of the vague, formless, but unconquerable appre- 
hension with which she had learned the probability of Hayes 
Meredith's coming to England ; he had no idea that a fore- 
gone conclusion in her mind lent the truth which had been 
revealed to her an additional power to wound and torture 
her, which was doing its work, unrecognized, before his eyes. 

One of the most sympathetic, generous, unselfish of men, 
Pitzwilliam Baldwin united cheerfulness of disposition with 
good sense to a degree not so frequently attained as would 



238 A KIGHTED WEONCf. 

be desirable in the interests of human nature ; and while he 
comprehended to the utmost the realities of the misfortune 
which had befallen Margaret, himself, and their child, he 
would have been [slow to appreciate, had he been aware of 
its existence, the imaginary evil with which Margaret's mor- 
bid fancy had invested it. When this wedding, with all its 
painful associations — so painful for them both that they 
never spoke of the subject when they were alone — should be 
over, Margaret would be quite herself again ; and she would 
find so much to occupy and interest her at the Deane, she 
would be able to throw off the impressions of the past, and 
to welcome the new interest which was so soon to be lent to 
her life with nearly all the gladness it would have com- 
manded had the incident they had to deplore never occurred. 

He had a keen perception, though he did not care to ex- 
amine its origin very closely, that Margaret would find it a 
relief to be rid of the presence of Meredith and his son. 
They were associated with all that had been most painful, 
most humiliating, in the old life ; they had brought the evil 
tidings which had cast a heavy gloom over the calm sunny 
happiness of the new, and she could not be happy or oblivious 
in their presence — could not, that is to say, at present, in 
her abnormal state of sensitiveness and nervousness. 

Etzwilliam Baldwin did not cordially like Eobert Mere- 
dith. He felt that he did not understand the boy, and his 
frank nature involuntarily recoiled, with an unexplained 
antipathy, from contact with a disposition so voilee, so little 
open, so calculating, as his observation convinced him that 
of Eobert Meredith was. Quite unselfish, and very simple in 
his habits and ideas, Mr Baldwin was none the less apt to 
discover the absence or the opposite of those qualities, and 
it was very shortly after their return to Chayleigh that he 
said to his wife, 



Margaret's presentiment. 239 

' Meredith intends to make a lawyer of his son, he tells 
me.' 

' Yes,' said Margaret, ' it is quite decided, I understand. 
I dare say he will do well, he has plenty of ability.' 

' He has, and a few other qualifications, such as cunning 
and coolness, and a grand faculty for taking care of himself, 
which people say are calculated to insure success in that line 
of life.' 

' You don't like lawyers,' said Margaret. 

'I don't like Bobert Meredith ; do you? ' said her hus- 
band. 

' No,' she replied promptly, ' I do not ; more than that, 
I ought to be ashamed of myself, I suppose, and yet I can't 
contrive to be ; but I dislike the boy extremely, more than 
I could venture to tell ; the feeling I have about him troubles 
me — it is difficult for me to hide it.' 

' I don't think you do hide it, Margaret,' said Baldwin ; 
' I only know you did not hide it from me. I never saw you 
laboriously polite and attentive to any one before ; your 
kindness to every one is genuine, as everything else about 
you, darling ; but to this youngster you are not spontaneous 
by any means.' 

' You are right,' she said, ' I am not. There is something 
hateful to me about him. I suppose I am afflicted with 
one of those feminiue follies which I have always despised, 
and have taken an antipathy to the boy. Very wrong, and 
very ungrateful of me,' she added sorrowfully. 

' Neither wrong nor ungrateful,' her husband answered 
in a tone of remonstrance. ' You are ready to do him all 
the substantial benefit in your power, as I am for his father's 
sake. There is no ingratitude in that ; and as for your not 
liking him being wrong — ' 

' Ah, but I don't stop at not liking him,' said Margaret ; 



240 A EIGHTED WEONG. 

'if I did, my conscience would not reproach me as it does. 
I hope his father does not perceive anything in my manner.' 

' Nothing more unlikely. Meredith does not observe 
you so closely or understand you so well as I do ; and I 
don't think any one but myself could find out that you dis- 
like the boy ; and I was assisted, I must acknowledge, by a 
lively fellow-feeling. I should not wonder if Robert was 
perfectly aware that he is not a favourite with you.' 

' I am sure there is nothing in my manner or that of any 
one else,' said Margaret, ' which in any way touches himself, 
that he fails to perceive.' 

' Fortunately it does not matter. He loses nothing 
material by our not happening to take a fancy to him, and 
I don't think he is a person to suffer from any sentimental 
regrets. More than that, Margaret — and enough to have 
made me dislike him — I don't think he likes you.' 

' Like me ! He hates me,' she said vehemently. ' I 
catch his eye sometimes v.hen he looks at me, and wonder 
how so young a face can express so much bad feeling. I 
have seen such a diabolical sneer upon his face sometimes, 
particularly when either my father or his father spoke affec- 
tionately to me, as almost startled me — for my own sake, I 
mean.' 

' For your own sake ? ' said Mr Baldwin in a tone of 
some annoyance. ' How can you say such a foolish thing ? 
Why on earth should you give such a thing a moment's 
thought ? What can it possibly matter to you that you are 
the object of an impertinent dislike to a boy like young 
Meredith ? ' 

' Nothing, indeed,' answered Margaret, ' and I will never 
think of it again. You are all in a conspiracy to spoil me, 
1 think, and thus I am foolish enough to be surprised and 
uncomfortable when any one dislikes me without a reason.' 



Margaret's presentiment. 211 

No more was said then on this subject, and Mi' Baldwin 
dismissed it from his mind. The conversation he had had 
with his wife had just so much effect upon him and no more, 
that he took very little notice of Robert, and displayed no 
more interest than politeness demanded in the discussions 
concerning him and his future, which just then shared the 
attention of the family party at Chayleigh with Captain 
Carteret's rapidly approaching marriage. 

This circumstance the young gentleman was not slow to 
notice, and it had the effect of intensifying the feeling with 
which he regarded Margaret. 

' She has put her fine husband up to snubbing me, has 
she ? ' he said to himself one day, when Mr Baldwin had 
taken less notice of him than usual. ' Now, I wonder what 
that's for. Perhaps she's afraid of the goodness of my 
memory. I dare say she has told him a whole pack of lies 
about the time she was in Melbourne, and she's afraid, if I 
walked or rode out with him, I might get upon the subject. 
And I only wish he would give me a chance, that's all.' 

But nothing was more unlikely than that Mr Baldwin 
should give Robert Meredith such a ' chance,' and that the 
boy's natural quickness soon made him understand. The 
only person with whom he associated at this time, who 
afforded him any opportunity for his spiteful confidences, 
was the bride-elect. 

Lucy was still pleased by the unrepressed admiration of 
the only male creature within the sphere of Mrs Baldwin's 
influence who was wholly unimpressed by her attractions. 
The ' great friend's ' project, though, according to Miss Lucy 
Crofton's somewhat shallow perceptions, triumphantly suc- 
cessful, did not in the least interfere with so thoroughly le- 
gitimate a development of feminine proclivities. 

To be sure, the subject of Margaret's first marriage, and 

16 



242 A RIGHTED WRONG. 

her disastrous life in Melbourne, was one which Lucy had 
never heard touched upon, even in the most intimate con- 
versations among the family at Chayleigh. Her affianced 
Haldane had never spoken to her, except in the briefest and 
most general terms, of that painful episode in the family 
history. But that did not constitute, according to Lucy's 
not very scrupulous or refined code of delicacy, any barrier 
to her talking and hearing as much about it in any other 
available manner as she could. 

She even persuaded herself that it was her ' place ' and a 
kind of ' duty ' to learn as much about her future sister-in- 
law as possible ; people would talk, and it was only proper 
and right, when certain subjects were introduced, that she, 
in her future capacity of Mrs Haldane Carteret (the cards 
were printed, and very new, and shiny, and important they 
looked), should know exactly ' how things stood,' and what 
she should have to say. Which was a reflection full of fore- 
sight on the part of the eldest Miss Crofton, and partaking 
somewhat of the nature of prophecy, as, from the hour of 
Mrs Baldwin's marriage, the subject of her colonial life 
had never been revived in the coteries of ' the neighbour- 
hood.' 

Robert Meredith had method in his mischief. He did 
not offend the amour propre of Lucy by speaking contempt- 
uously of Mrs Baldwin, or betraying the dislike which he 
entertained towards her; he dexterously mingled in the 
revelations which he made to Lucy an affected compassion 
for Margaret's past sorrows, and a congratulatory compas- 
sion of her present enviable position, with, artful insinua- 
tions of the incongruity between the Mrs Baldwin of the 
present and the Mrs Hungerford of the past, and a kind of 
bashful wonder, which he modestly imputed to his colonial 
ignorance of the ways of society, how any person could pos- 



Margaret's presentiment. 213 

sibly consider Miss Lucy Croffcon other than in every 
respect superior to Mrs Baldwin. 

The boyish flattery pleased Lucy's vanity, the boyish ad- 
miration pleased her, and she entirely deprecated the idea 
that Robert's manners and ideas were not on a par with 
those of other people born on this side of the ocean. 

' You must remember,' she said with much coquetry, and 
a smile which she intended to be immensely knowing, 'that 
Mrs Baldwin is a great lady in her way, and I am not of 
anything like so much importance. I fancy that would 
make as much difference in your part of the world as here.' 

And then they talked a great deal of his part of the 
world ; and Robert acknowledged that his most earnest 
desire was that he might never see Australia again. And 
Lucy Crofton confessed that she was very glad Haldane 
could not be sent there, at least on that odious 'foreign serv- 
ice,' which she thought a detestable and absurd injustice, 
devised for the purpose of making the wives and families of 
military men miserable. She was quite alive to the fact that 
they were highly ornamental, but could not see that soldiers 
were of the slightest use at home — and as to abroad, they 
never did anything there, since war had ceased, but die of 
fevers and all sorts of horrors. So the pair pursued an ani- 
mated and congenial conversation, of which it is only neces- 
sary to record two sentences. 

' I suppose you have no one belonging to you in Austra- 
lia ? ' Robert Meredith asked Miss Crofton, in a tone which 
implied that to so exceptionally delightful a being nothing 
so objectionable as a colonial connection could possibly 
belong. 

' No one that I know anything about ; there is a cousin 
of papa's — much younger than papa, he is — who got into 
trouble, and they sent him out there ; but none of us ever 



244 A E1GHTED WRONG. 

saw him, and I don't know what has become of him. I 
don't even know his name rightly; it is something like Old- 
ham, or Otway, or Oakley.' 

' How do you feel, Madge ? are you sure you are equal 
to this business ? ' said Lady Davyntry to Margaret, as she 
came into her sister-in-law's room on the morning of Hal- 
dane's marriage. ' Haldane is walking about the hall in the 
most horrid temper, your father is lingering over the last 
importation of bats, as if he were bidding them an eternal 
farewell, and the carriage is just coming round, so I thought 
I would come and look after you two. I felt sure you 
would be with the child. "What a shame not to bring her 
to the wedding! — Isn't it, G-erty?' and Lady Davyntry, 
looking very handsome and stately in her brave attire, took 
the little girl out of her mother's arms, and paused for 
a reply. 

Margaret was quite ready. She was very well, she said, 
and felt quite equal to the wedding festivities. 

' That's right ; I like weddings, when one isn't a princi- 
pal ; they are very pleasant. How pale you are, Margaret ! 
Are you really quite well ? 

* She is really quite well,' said Mr Baldwin ; ' don't 
worry her, Eleanor.' 

The slightest look of surprise came into Eleanor's sweet- 
tempered face, but it passed away in a moment, and they all 
went down to the hall, where Margaret received many com- 
pliments from her father on her dress and appearance, and 
where Haldane on seeing them first assumed a foolish ex- 
pression of countenance, which he wore permanently for the 
rest of the day. 

The carriages were announced. Margaret and her hus- 
band, Lady Davyntry and Mr Carteret, were to occupy one ; 



Margaret's presentiment. 245 

the other was to convey Haldane, Hayes Meredith and his 
son, and James Dugdale. 

' Where is James ? ' asked Mr Carteret. ' I have not 
seen him this morning.' 

Xobody had seen him but Haldane, who explained that 
he had preferred walking on to the church. 

' Just like him,' said Haldane, ' he is such an odd fellow; 
only fancy his asking me to get him off appearing at break- 
fast. Could not stand it, he said, and was sure he would 
never be missed. Of course I said he must have his own 
way, though I couldn't make him out. He could stand 
Margaret's wedding well enough.' 

The last day of Margaret's stay at Chayleigh had arrived. 
All arrangements had been made for the departure of Mr 
and Mrs Baldwin and Mr Carteret. An extraordinary event 
was about to take place in the life of the tranquil old gentle- 
man. He was about to be separated from the collection for 
an indefinite period, and taken to the Deane, a place whose 
much-talked-of splendours he had never even experienced a 
desire to behold, having been perfectly comfortable in the 
knowledge that they existed and were enjoyed by his 
daughter. 

That her father should be induced to* accompany her to 
Scotland, that she should not be parted from him, had been 
so urgent a desire on Margaret's part, that her husband and 
James Dugdale had set themselves resolutely to obtain its 
realization, and they had succeeded, with some difficulty. 
The collection was a great obstacle, but then Mr Baldwin's 
collection — whose treasures the old gentleman politely and 
sincerely declared his eagerness to inspect, while he secretly 
cherished a pleasing conviction that he should find them 
very inferior to those oft- his own — was a great inducement : 



246 A RIGHTED WRONG. 

besides, he had corresponded formerly with a certain Pro- 
fessor Bayly, of Glasgow, who had some brilliant theories 
connected with Bos primus, and this would be a favourable 
opportunity for seeing the Professor, who rarely ' came 
South,' as he called visiting England. 

He was not at all disturbed by Margaret's eager desire 
that he should accompany her ; he did not perceive in it the 
contradiction to her usual unselfish consideration for others, 
which James Dugdale saw and thoroughly understood, and 
which Mr Baldwin saw and did not understand, but set 
down to the general account of her ' nervousness.' He had 
been rather unhappy at first about the journey and the 
change ; but James's cheerful prognostications, and the un- 
expected discovery that Poster, his inseparable servant, 
whose displeasure was a calamity not to be lightly incurred, 
so far from objecting to the tremendous undertaking, ' took 
to ' the notion of a visit to the Deane very kindly, was a re- 
lief which no false shame interfered to prevent ; Mr Car- 
teret candidly admitting, and the whole family thankfully 
recognizing. 

' I don't know how I should have got through this day,' 
Margaret said to James, as they stood together on the ter- 
race under the verandah, and she plucked a few of the ten- 
der young leaves which had begun to unfold, under the per- 
suasion of the spring time — ' I don't know how I should have 
got through this day, if papa had not agreed to come with 
us. It is bad enough as it is ; a last day ' — she was folding 
the tiny leaves now, and putting them between the covers of 
her pocket-book — 'is always dreadful— dreadful to me, I 
mean. It sounds stupid and commonplace to talk of the 
uncertainty of life, but I don't think other people live always 
under the presence of the remembrance, the conviction of it, 
as I do. It is always over me, and it makes everything 



margaket's presentiment. 247 

which has anything of finality about it peculiarly impressive 
to me.' 

Her hand was resting on his arm now, and they turned 
away from the house-front and walked down the grassy 
slope. 

' Do you — do you mean that this sense of uncer- 
tainty relates to yourself ? ' he asked her, speaking 
with evident effort and holding her arm more closely to 
him. 

' Yes,' she replied calmly ; ' I am never tortured by any 
fears about those I love now ; the time was when I was first 
very, very happy ; when the wonderful, glorious sense of 
the life that had opened to me came upon me fully ; when I 
hardly dared to recognize it, because of the shadow of death. 
Then it hung over my husband and my child ; over my 
father — and — you.' 

He shook his head with an involuntary deprecatory 
movement, and a momentary flicker of pain disturbed his 
grave thoughtful eyes. 

1 And it lent an intensity which sometimes I could hardly 
bear to every hour of my life — my wonderfully happy life,' 
she repeated, and looked all around her in a loving solemn 
way which struck the listener to the heart. ' But then the 
thing 1 had dreaded, though I had never divined its form, 
though it had gradually faded from my mind, came upon me 
— you know how, James, and how rebellious I was under 
my trial ; no one knows but God and you — and then, then 
the shadow was lightened. It never has fallen again over 
them or you ; it hangs only over me, and — James, look at 
me, don't turn away — I want to remember every look in 
your face to-day ; it is not a shadow at all, but only a veil 
before the light whose glory I could not bear yet awhile. 
That is all, indeed.' 



248 



A RIGHTED WRONG. 



He did not speak, and she felt that a sharp thrill of pain 
ran through his spare form . 

' Don't be angry with me,' she went on in soft pleading 
tones, ' don't think I distress you needlessly, I do so want 
you to hear me — to leave what I am saying to you in your 
mind. When I first told you that I had a presentiment 
that I had suffered my last sorrow, that all was to be peace 
for me henceforth, except in thinking of my child, you were 
not persuaded ; you imputed it to the shock my nerves had 
received, and you think so still. It is not so indeed, even 
with respect to my child. I am tranquil and happy now ; I 
don't know why, I cannot account for it. Nothing in the 
circumstances is susceptible of change, and I see those cir- 
cumstances as clearly as I saw them when they first existed ; 
but I am changed. I feel as if my vision had been enlarged ; 
I feel as if the horizon had widened before me, and with the 
great space has come great calm — calm of mind — like what 
travellers tell us comes with theimmense mountain solitudes 
when all the world beneath looks little, and yet the great 
loneliness lifts one up nearer to heaven, and has no fear or 
trembling in it. I am not unquiet now, James, not even for 
the child. The wrong that I have done her Grod will right.' 

James Dugdale said hastily, ' Tou have done her no 
conscious wrong, and all will be righted.' 

' Tes, I know ; I am saying so ; but not in our way, 
James, not as we — ' she paused a very little, almost imper- 
ceptibly — ' not as you would have it. But that it will be 
righted I have not the smallest doubt, not the least fear. 
Tou will remember, James, that I said to you the wrong I 
did my child will be righted.' 

' Bemember ! ' he said in keen distress. ' What do you 
mean, Margaret ? Have you still the same presentiment ? 
Is this your former talk with me over again ? ' 



haegaeet's presentiment. 249 

' Yes,' she replied, ' and no. When I talked with you 
before I was troubled, sad, and afraid. Now I am neither 
sad, troubled, nor afraid.' 

' You are ill. There is something which you know and 
are hiding from us which makes you think and speak thus.' 

' No, indeed.' 

There was conviction in her tone, and he could but look 
at her and wait until she should speak again. She did not 
speak for a few moments, and then she resumed in a firm 
voice : 

' I want to say to you all that is in my mind — at least as 
far as it can be said. I am not ill in any serious way, and I 
am not hiding anything which ought to be made known ; and 
yet I do believe that I am not to live much longer in this 
world, and I acknowledge with a full heart that the richest 
portion of happiness ever given to a woman has been, is 
mine. When this trouble, the only one I have had in my 
new life, came to me, it changed me, and changed everything 
to me for a time ; but the first effect is quite past, and the 
wound my pride received is healed. I don't think about 
that now ; but I do think of the wonderful compensation, if 
I may dare to use a word which sounds like bringing God 
to a reckoning for His dealings with one of His creatures, 
which has been made to me, and I feel that I have lived all 
my days. The old presentiment that I had of evil to come 
to me from Australia, and its fulfilment, and the suffering 
and struggle, all are alike gone now, quieted down, and the 
peace has come which I do not believe anything is ever to 
disturb more.' 

' Margaret, Margaret ! ' he said, ' I cannot bear this ; you 
must not speak thus ; if you persist in doing so, there must 
be some reason for it. It is not like you to have such morbid 
fancies.' 



250 A RIGHTED WKONG. 

' And it is not like you to misunderstand me,' she inter- 
rupted gently. ' Can you not see that I am telling you 
what is in my mind on what I believe will be my last day in 
my old home, because, if I am right, it will make you happy 
in the time to come to remember it ? ' 

' Happy ! ' he repeated with impatience. 

' Yes, happy ! and if I am not right, and this is indeed 
but a morbid fancy, it will have done you no harm to hear 
it. You have listened to many a fancy of mine, dear old 
friend.' 

Tears gathered in her eyes now, and two large drops fell 
from the dark eyelashes unheeded. 

' I have, I have,' he said, ' but to what fancies ! How 
can you speak thus, Margaret ? How can you think so 
calmly of leaving those who love you so much, those in whose 
love you confess you have found so much happiness ? Your 
husband, your child, your father ! ' 

' I cannot tell you,' she said ; ' I cannot explain it, and 
because I cannot I am forced to believe it, to feel that it is 
so. The world seems far away from me somehow, even my 
own small precious world. You remember, when I spoke to 
you before, I told you how much I dreaded the effect of 
what had happened on myself, on my own feelings — how 
strangely the sense I have always had of being so much older 
than my husband, the dread of losing the power of enjoying 
the great happiness of my life, had seized hold of me ? ' 

' I remember.' 

' Well,' she continued, ' all this fear has left me now — 
indeed, all fear of every kind, and the power of suffering, I 
think. When I think of the grief of those I shall have to 
leave, if my presentiment is realized, I don't shrink from it 
as I did when the first thought of the possible future came 
to me. After all, it is for such a little, little time.' 



maegaeet's presentiment. 251 

Her eyes were raised upwards to the light, and a smile 
which the listener could not bear to see, and yet looked at 
— thinking, with the vain tenderness so fruitful in pangs of 
every kind and degree of intensity, that at least he never, 
never should be able to recall that look — came brightly over 
her face, and slowly faded. 

' Oh no, Margaret ; life is awfully long — hopelessly 
long.' 

' It seems so sometimes, but it has ceased to seem so to 
me. You must not grieve for what I am saying to you. If 
all is what you will think right with me, and we are here 
together again, you will be glad to think, to remember how 
I told you all that was in my heart ; if it is otherwise, you 
will be. far more than glad, James.' 

In his heart there arose at that moment a desperately 
strong, an almost irresistible longing to tell her now, for the 
first time and the last, how he had loved her all his life. 
But he resisted the longing — he was used to self-restraint — 
and said not a word which could trouble her peace. 

They returned to the house shortly after, and went in by 
the drawing-room window. At the foot of the green slope 
Margaret paused for a minute, and looked with a smile at 
the open window of her room. A white curtain fluttered 
about it ; there was a stir as of life in the room, but there 
was no one there. 

' You will take care of the passion-flower, James ? ' she 
said. ' I think the blossoms will be splendid this year.' 

A few hours later, and the house was deserted by all but 
James Dugdale. Hayes Meredith and his son had escorted 
Lady Davyntry to her own house, and gone on from thence 
to dine with the Croftons. 

The first letter which James Dugdale received was from 



252 A RIGHTED WRONG. 

Margaret. She wrote in good spirits, and gave an amusing 
account of her father's delight with the Deane, and admira- 
tion — a little qualified by the difficulty of acknowledging at 
least its equality with his own— of Mr Baldwin's collection, 
and his frequent expressions of surprise at finding the journey 
by no means so disagreeable or portentous an undertaking as 
he had expected. She was very well, except that she had 
taken cold. 

A day or two later Lady Davyntry heard from her bro- 
ther. Margaret was not so well ; the cold was obstinate 
and exhausting ; he deeply regretted her return to Scotland ; 
only for the risk of travelling, he should take her away im- 
mediately. The next letter was not more reassuring, and 
Lady Davyntry made up her mind to go to Scotland without 
delay. In this resolution James Dugdale, with a sick and 
sinking heart, confirmed her. Not a word of actual danger 
was said in the letters which reached Davyntry daily, but the 
alarm which James felt was not slow to communicate itself 
to Eleanor. 

' She has been delicate for a long time,' said Lady Davyn- 
try to James, ' and very much more so latterly than she ever 
acknowledged.' 

In reply to her proposal to go at once to the Deane, 
Eleanor had an urgent letter of thanks from her brother. 
Margaret was not better — strangely weak indeed. Lady 
Davyntry was to start on the next day but one after the 
receipt of this letter, and James went over to Davyntry on 
the intervening day. He had a long interview with Eleanor, 
and, having left her, was walking wearily towards home, 
when he saw Hayes Meredith and Eoberfr rapidly advancing 
to meet him. He quickened his pace, and they met where 
the footpath wound by the clump of beech-trees, once so 
distasteful in Margaret's sight. There was not a gleam of 



AFTER A YEAE. 253 

colour in Meredith's face, and as James came up the boy 
shrunk back behind his father 

' What's the matter ? ' said James, coming to a dead stop 
in front of Meredith. 

' My dear fellow, you will need courage. Baldwin's valet 
has come from the Deane.' 

' Yes ! ' said James in a gasping voice. 

' Margaret was much worse after Baldwin wrote, and the 
child — a girl — was born that afternoon. The child — ' 

' Is dead ? ' James tore his coat open as he asked the 
question, as if choking. 

' JSo, my dear fellow' — his friend took his arm firmly 
within his own — 'the poor child is alive, but Margaret is 
gone.' 



CHAPTER XXIII. 

AFTER A TEAR. 

Lady Davyntry to James Ditgdale, 

' The Deane, March 17, 18—. 

' My dear Mr Dugdale, — Tour last letter, imposing 
upon me the task of advising my brother, in the sense of the 
conclusions arrived at by yourself and Mr Meredith, gave 
me a great deal to think about. I could not answer it fully 
before, and I am sure the result which I have now to state 
to you will not, in reality, be displeasing to you, but I can- 
not uphold its soundness of wisdom, in a worldly sense, 
even to my own judgment — though it carries with it all my 
sympathies ; and I am confident Mr Meredith will entirely 
disapprove of it. 



254 A RIGHTED WRONG. 

' I was obliged to be careful in selecting an opportunity 
for entering upon the discussion prescribed by your letter 
with Fitzwilliam. Since his great affliction fell upon him, 
he is not so gentle, so easy of access, as be used to be ; and 
though he will sometimes talk freely to me of the past, the 
occasions must be of bis own choosing. Hence the delay. 
I took the best means, as I thought, of making him under- 
stand the gravity and earnestness of the matter it was neces- 
sary he should consider — I read your letter to him. The 
mere hearing of it distressed him very much. He said, what 
I also felt, that he had not thought it could be possible to 
make him feel the loss of Margaret more deeply, but that 
the statement of his present position, so clear, so true, so 
indisputable, has made him feel it. He listened while I 
read the letter again, at his request, and then left me sud- 
denly, saying he would tell me what to answer as soon as he 
could. 

' Some days elapsed, and we saw very little of him — I 
perceived that one of his dark moods was upon him — and 
yesterday lie came to me, to tell me to answer your letter. 
He took me to the sitting-room which was Margaret's, and 
where everything remains just as she left it on the last day 
thai she came down-stairs at the Deane. I suppose he felt 
that I could understand his decision more clearly, and be 
less inclined to listen to all the reasons which render it un- 
wise, wheu everything around should speak of her whose un- 
dimmed memory dictated it. 

' The sum of what he said to me — with many strayings 
from the matter, and so much revival of the past in all its 
first bitterness, that I was astonished, such a faculty of grief 
being rarely seen in a man — was this. He cannot bring 
himself to contemplate, as you and Mr Meredith are agreed 



AFTEE A YEAE. 255 

he ought, a second marriage. As nearly as possible, this 
was what he said : 

' " When we found out the wrong which had been inno- 
cently done to Gertrude, we hoped, indeed we were so per- 
suaded, that the child we were expecting would be a boy, 
and the wrong be thus righted, that we never looked beyond 
the birth of the child, or discussed the future in any way 
with reference to a disappointment in that particular. The 
child would be the heir, and Gertrude's future would be 
safe, rich, and prosperous. Such were our dreams — and 
when the fearful awakening came, it was sometime before I 
understood all it meant. It was weeks before I remembered 
that the wrong done to the child my Margaret had loved so 
much, that she broke her heart because that wrong had been 
done, could never be righted now. It was very long before 
the thought occurred to me that those to whom this dreadful 
truth was known would perceive that a second marriage, 
by giving me the chance of a male heir, and thus putting 
the two children on an equal footing in the eyes of the world, 
would afford me the only means of avoiding injustice to 
Eleanor." 

'Here he stopped, and said he suffered equally about 
both children, for the youngest had also sustained ths great- 
est loss of all. Then he continued : 

' " I did think of this sometimes, but with horror, and a 
full knowledge that though it would be a just and wise thing 
in one sense for the interests of my children, it would be 
unjust and unwise towards them and myself, and any woman 
whom I might induce to marry me, in another. I dare say 
you will think I am talking nonsense, forgetting the influence, 
which, however slow, is always sure, of the lapse of time — 
forgetting that others have been heavily bereaved and yet 



256 A EIGHTED WRONG. 

have found consolation, and even come to know much happi- 
ness again — when I tell you that I never could take the slight- 
est interest in any woman any more. "Well, supposing I am 
wrong there — I don't think I can be ; there is something in 
my inmost heart which tells me I am right — we are dealing 
now not with the future, but with the present. James is 
right in pointing out that I must make up my mind to some 
course, and I am glad Meredith is still interested in me and in 
the children's future. Time may alter my state of mind, but 
if it does, no arrangements made now will be irrevocable. 

' " But, as my life is uncertain, I am not justified in allow- 
ing any more time to go by, without providing, as well as I 
can, for the contingencies which may arise. Tell James I 
am deeply impressed with the truth of this, and the strong 
necessity of acting on all he and Meredith have set before 
me, though I cannot act upon it in the way in which they 
prescribe. For the present— and you will not need to be 
assured that I am not regardless of what Margaret would 
wish — I must only make all the reparation which money can 
make to Eleanor." 

' Then Eitzwilliani entered into a full explanation of the 
position of the estate, and gave me the enclosed memoran- 
dum, which hewishes youand Mr Meredith to see, and showed 
me how the ready money he can leave to Eleanor, and the 
income, apart from the entailed estate, which he can settle 
on her, in reality amount to within two thousand a year of 
the income which must come to Gertrude as heir of entail. 
To this purpose he intends to devote all this money, his 
great object being to render the position of his children as 
nearly equal as possible, and so reduce the unintentional in- 
justice done to Eleanor, and the wrong, now past atonement, 
inflicted on Gertrude, to such small dimensions as may re- 
lieve him from any suffering on the subject. 



AFTER A YEAH. 257 

' He has requested that no portion of Mr Carteret's pro- 
perty should be left to either of the children. They will be 
rich enough, and he considers, very justly, that Haldane's 
children will have a superior claim on Mr Carteret, who was 
feverishly anxious, Pitzwilliam tells me, to have all his 
affairs settled ; when he spoke to him, he did not like this 
idea at all, he is so much attached to little Gertrude ; but 
when my brother told him he knew it would have been Mar- 
garet's wish that her brother should have all it was in their 
father's power to give, he was satisfied, and promised that it 
should be so. 

' In telling you this, I dare say I am repeating what is 
already known to you ; but I give it its place in the convers- 
ation between us, as bearing upon the point that the only 
way in which the past can now be repaired, is by securing to 
the children as much equality in m6ney matters as possible. 

' As a branch of this subject, I may tell you that the 
future disposition of my property has been discussed between 
us. In Davyntry I have, as I dare say you know, only a life- 
interest, and the money of which I have to dispose comes to 
me from my father. It is six hundred a year, and I shall at 
once make my will in favour of Eleanor. Thus the inequality 
in the fortunes of the girls will be decreased, and Pitzwil- 
liam is much less likely than ever to live up to his income. 
The girls will both be very rich heiresses, no doubt, and I do 
not think any of us who are in the secret need feel that the 
advantage to Grerty of appearing as the heiress of the Deane 
is very material. 

' Her father feels very deeply the condition of the entail 
which prescribed that she must bear her own name, her 
husband being obliged to assume it. There is a sting in 
that which you will thoroughly comprehend. He asked me 
if I thought that remembrance had contributed to the pain 

17 



258 A RIGHTED WRONG. 

which Margaret had suffered about this calamity, but I could 
assure him conscientiously that I did not think it had ever 
occurred to her. The child was so mere an infant, and the 
strong hope and expectation, disappointed by Eleanor's 
birth, possessed them so completely, that money matters, in 
connection with the future, were never discussed between 
them. He confirmed me in this. They never were; and 
now it is a keen source of regret to him, because, he says, 
he should be fortified by the knowledge of how she would 
have desired he should act, under the present circum- 
stances. 

' Poor fellow ! I listened to him, seriously of course ; but, 
sad as it was, I could hardly keep from smiling at the way 
in which he confounds the present with the past, forgetting 
that he had no fear, no misgivings, no presentiment, and 
therefore that no reason existed for such a discussion. All 
this will appear impracticable to Mr Meredith, but he will 
have patience with my brother; he saw enough of what 
their life together was, to understand, in some degree, the 
immeasurable loss. My ignorance of all that had occurred, 
at the time of Margaret's death, is, perhaps, regretable on 
this score, that I might have gotten at more of her mind 
than, for his sake, she would have betrayed to him ; but it 
is too late now to repair that ignorance, and we must only do 
the best we can in the children's interests. 

' Keeping in view the change time may produce — that 
my brother is still a young man, and that a second marriage 
may not always be so repugnant to him as it is at present — I 
think we may rest satisfied in having induced him to contem- 
plate, and, no doubt as soon as possible to make, a proper 
disposition of his property. As for the children, they are as 
happy as little unconscious creatures like them can be, and 
I do not think their father's making a second marriage would 



AFTEE A YEAR. 259 

be an undivided blessing for them. Where is there a second 
Margaret to be found ? 

' Fitzwilliam spoke to me very freely on this point. He 
could not pretend to any woman that he loved her ; and as, 
in that case, his second wife must necessarily marry him for 
mercenary motives, could he regard any woman who would 
do so as a fitting representative of their mother to his 
children — could he make her even tolerably happy, thus 
entering upon a life in which there could be no mutual re- 
spect ? Such arguments are all-powerful with a woman, 
especially with me ; for I know how pure, how disinterested, 
our lost Margaret's feelings and motives in her marriage 
were, and remember only too well seeing how they were 
realized — the doubt and dread she expressed when she first 
recognized the prospect for the future which lay before her. 
How wonderful and dreadful it seems to speak of her thus 
in the past, to refer to that which seemed so completely all 
in all to us then, and is now gone for ever ! 

' My brother is content with the care the children have 
from me, and, far more effectually, from Rose. Time teaches 
me her value more and more forcibly, and I am more and 
more thankful that, in the blackest and worst time of our 
distress, you suggested her being sent for. How strange 
and fortunate that Margaret had given you a clue to what 
her wishes would have been ! Neither Fitzwilliam nor I 
would have thought of her ; indeed, I had entirely forgotten 
the " Irish- Australian importation of Margaret's," as I once 
heard poor Mrs Carteret speak of her. She is a comfort to 
us all past describing. 

' I do not know whether Eitzwilliam has told you that 
Terence Doran, Rose's husband, is coming to him in a month 
as factor. He is a very clever young man, we understand, 
nnd, though well placed in Ireland, willing to come here, for 



260 A SIGHTED WEONG. 

his wife's sake, to enable her to remain with the children. I 
have no intention of leaving the Deane for the present. 
Fitzwilliam seems restless ; he does not say so, but I fancy 
he wishes to go abroad again. I should not be surprised if 
he started off soon on some prolonged tour. 

' You ask me about the children. Before I reply to your 
questions, let me tell you how sorry we all are that there is 
no chance of our seeing you here. We understand, of 
course, that the state of your own health, and the duty you 
feel imposed upon you with regard to poor Mr Carteret, to 
whom it would be naturally most distasteful to come here, 
furnish indisputable reasons for your absence, but we do not 
the less regret it. I infer from the news that Mr Meredith 
means to leave England next month, that he has satisfac- 
torily brought all his business to a conclusion. His return 
will be a great boon to his family. An absence Avhich, by 
the time he reaches Melbourne, will have been prolonged to 
nearly two years, is a terrible slice out of this short mortal 
life. I suppose all the arrangements made for his son have 
succeeded to his satisfaction, and that you, with your invari- 
able kindness, have undertaken the supervision of the boy. 

' And now, about the children. Gertrude is a fine child, 
very like Margaret in face, and, so far as one can judge of 
so young a child, of a nice disposition, rather grave and 
sensitive. Her father idolizes her; he is never weary of the 
little girl's company, and I can see that he is always tracing 
the likeness to the face hidden from him for a while. Little 
Eleanor is delicate and peevish ; indeed, if it be not foolish 
to say so of an infant, I should say she is of a passionate 
nature ; she is not so pretty as Gertrude, but has large brown 
eyes, quite unlike either her sister or her poor mother. She 
is Eose Doran's favourite, and I can trace sometimes, in her 
candid Irish face, some surprise and displeasure when she- 



AFTER A YEAR. 261 

■notices my brother's intense affection for the elder girl. She 
lias no knowledge of anything which makes the child an ob- 
ject of compassionate love to the father.' 

' March 18. 

' YvHien I had written so far, I was interrupted by Eitz- 
william. He brought me a letter winch he has written to 
Mr Janvrin, of Lincoln's Inn, his solicitor, and which con- 
tains instructions for the drawing up of a will according to 
the plan I have mentioned. He wishes me to recapitulate 
to you what would be the children's positions in the event 
of his death, unmarried, and not having revoked his will. 

' Gertrude would succeed to all the entailed property, 
■chargeable, as in Eitzwilliam's case, with a provision for her 
younger children. 

' Eleanor would have all the savings from the general in- 
come up to the time of her father's death, and all such pro- 
perty as is not included in the entail. 

' Haldane Carteret and I are named as the guardians and 
trustees, and my brother signifies his wish that his children 
should reside alternately with either Mrs Carteret or me, ac- 
cording to the general convenience. 

' Will you kindly communicate this to Mr Meredith, to- 
gether with my personal acknowledgment of the kind inter- 
est he has taken in us all during the sorrowful period of his 
stay in England ? 

' Always, my dear Mr Dugdale, most faithfully yours, 

Eleanor Davyntry.' 

James Dugdale to Lady Davyntry. 

' Chayleigh, March 20. 

' My dear Lady Davyntry,— I have to thank you for 
your kind and explanatory letter. I never expected Bald- 



262 A RIGHTED WRONG. 

win to take the view of the matter on which I wrote to you 
which Meredith takes. Meredith is so much more a man of 
the world than I am, has so much longer a head, and so 
much sounder judgment, that I could not hesitate to trans- 
mit to you and Baldwin his views, in which the world, could 
it know what we are so unfortunate as to know, would no 
doubt recognize reason and force. Well, we too recognize 
them, but that is all. 

' All the dispositions which you tell me Baldwin has 
made are admirable under the circumstances, and consider- 
ing his determination, which I do not think is likely to 
yield to the influence of time, which cannot restore her who ■ 
was lost, and will, I am convinced, but increase his appreci- 
ation of the extent and severity of that loss. Gertrude 
gains only in name and appearance, and does her sister no 
real injury. I have often thought how terrible Baldwin's 
position would have been had not Eleanor lived. Then he 
must either have married again, or done an injury to the 
heir of entail by permitting Gertrude to succeed. Meredith 
was asking me about the succession, but I could not tell 
him. I fancy I heard, but I don't remember where, when, 
or how, that the next heir is a distant relative, with whom 
Baldwin is not acquainted. 

' Mr Carteret had told me, before I received your letter, 
Baldwin's wishes about his will, and that he intended to 
comply with them. The only legacy Gertrude will inherit 
from her grandfather is the unfinished portrait which you 
brought from Naples. He never mentioned it, or seemed 
to notice that I had had it unpacked and placed in the 
study, until the day on which he mentioned Baldwin's re- 
quest, and then he looked at it, quite a fond, quiet smile. 
The calm, the impassibility of old age is coming over him,, 
fortunately for him. 



AFTER A YEAR. 263 

' But while I perfectly understand the force and ap- 
prove the object of the representation which Baldwin has 
made to Mr Carteret, and while I heartily approve the 
reason and the generosity of the disposition you intend 
making of such portion of your property as is within your 
power, I do not think I am bound by similar restrictions. 
Partly because the little I possess is so small, so utterly 
trivial and unimportant, in comparison with the handsome 
fortune which the measures Baldwin is talcing will secure, 
with your assistance, to Eleanor ; and partly because I feel 
towards the elder child in a peculiar way, almost inexplic- 
able to myself — I intend to bequeath to Gertrude the small 
sum I possess the power of bequeathing. 

' She shall have it when I am gone, and it shall be left 
at her free and uncontrolled disposition ; it will add a little 
yearly sura to her pleasures, or, if she be as like her mother 
in her nature as in her face, to her charities. It will be a 
great pleasure to me to know that Gertrude, whose splendid 
inheritance will come to her by a real though guiltless 
error, will at least have that small heritage in her own real 
undisputable right— not as the heiress of anything or any 
one, only as Margaret's child. 

' I am so glad to know what you tell me concerning 
Eose Doran. She was always a good, genuine creature, and 
it is almost as rare as it is pleasant to anticipate excellence 
and not to be disappointed. Baldwin should be careful, 
however, of annoying her by displaying too marked a pre- 
ference for Gerty. Eose is a very shrewd person, and in 
her impulsive Irish mind the process, which should make 
her suspicious of a reason for this preference, and jealous 
for the child whose life cost that of her mother, would not 
be a difficult one. 

' Meredith's plans are unchanged. He has every reason 



264 



A RIGHTED WRONG. 



to be satisfied with the arrangements made for Bobert. I 
have no doubt the bay will do well. He wants neither 
ability nor application ; I wish he had as much heart and as 
much frankness. Davyntry is looking very well, lonely, of 
course, but well taken care of; I ramble about there almost 
every day. Haldane and his wife are expected next week 
at the Croftons. 

' Yours, dear Lady Davyntry, always truly, 

' James Dugdale.' 

Hayes llereditli to Fitzwittiam Jleriton Baldwin. 

' Chayleigh, Apsil 2. 

My dear Baldwix, — I am off in a short time now, 
and this is to say good-bye — most likely for ever. At my 
time of life I am not likely to get back to England again, 
unless," indeed, I should make a fortune by some very un- 
likely hazard, of which not the faintest indication appears 
at present. 

' I am very much obliged to you for letting me know all 
the arrangements you have made. I am sure you know my 
feeling in the matter was interest, not curiosity, and though 
not only the safest, surest, speediest, but also the moat na- 
tural and agreeable way of putting an end to your difficulties 
appeared to me to be a second marriage, I am not going to 
blame you because you don't think so. I know the difficul- 
ties of the position, but, after all, you inflict a mere techni- 
cal wrong on one sister, while you make up for it by endow- 
ing her with a much larger fortune than she would have had, 
had her real position been what her apparent one is — that 
of a younger child. 

' From what you say of the amount of the savings which 
you expect to leave to Eleanor, I should think she would be 



AFTKIl A YEAR. 265 

little less rich than Gertrude, and without the burden of a 
large landed estate and establishment to keep up — also en- 
joying the immense advantage of being able to dispose of her 
property as she chooses, an advantage which Gertrude will 
not enjoy, and which, with my colonial ideas, I am dis- 
posed to estimate very highly indeed. 

' I have so many kindnesses and attentions to thank you 
for, that I must put all my acknowledgments into this one, 
and beg you to believe that I feel them deeply. The most 
welcome of all the acts of friendship I have received from 
you is your promise not to lose sight of Robert. He will 
get on well, I think. If he does not, his heart will be more 
in fault than his head, in my belief. 

' As to O , I hardly know what to think of your pro- 
posal. I doubt its being altogether safe to open communica- 
tions voluntarily with a man of his sort. He is so very 
likely, after his kind, to impute some bad, or at least suspici- 
ous, motive to an act of charity which I should not be dis- 
posed to give him credit for understanding or believing in. 
The least danger we should have to fear woiild be his 
establishing himself as a regular pensioner in con- 
sideration of your aid extended to him in so inexplicable a 
fashion. 

' But, beyond this, there is more to apprehend. I think 

I told you he knew nothing of M , not even her former 

name, nor her destination in England. If he receives a sum 
of money from you, he will naturally make inquiries about 
you, and there will be no means of keeping the required in- 
formation from him. Once supply him with a clue to any 
connection between you and his worthy comrade deceased, 

and O must be very unlike the man I believe him to be, 

and must have profited very insufficiently by such compan- 
ionship, if he does not see his way to a profitable secret, and 



266 A EIGHTED WRONG. 

the chance of chantage, in a very short time. This is the 
risk I foresee, and which I should not like to run. 

' At the same time, I understand the feeling which has 
dictated the proposition you make to me, and I can quite 
believe, remembering her noble nature so well as I do re- 
member it, that M would, as you suppose, have been 

glad to rescue from want the man to whom H — — owed, 
after all, relief in his last days, if to him she also owed the 
knowledge of her sorrow. I propose therefore (subject to 
your approval), when I arrive at Melbourne, to inquire, with 

judicious caution, into what has become of , and if I 

find him living and in distress, to assist him to a limited ex- 
tent, provided he is not quite so incorrigible a scoundrel as 
that assisting him would be enabling him to prey on society 
on a larger and more successful scale. 

' I would suggest, however, that under no circumstances 
should he be told that the money comes from you. I shall 
be credited, if I find him a proper object, or anything short 
of an entirely unjustifiable object, for your bounty, with a 
charitable action, which it certainly never would have come 
into my head to perform ; but I am quite williug, if it gives 
you any pleasure or consolation, to carry the burden of un- 
deserved praise and such gratitude as is to be expected from 

O , not a very oppressive quantity, I fancy. 

' I am glad to hear good news of you all from Dugdale. 
And now, my dear Baldwin, nothing remains for me to say, 
except that which cannot be written. Farewell. We shall 
hear how the world wags for each of us through Dugdale. 

' Tours faithfully, 

' Hates Meredith. ' 



AFTER A YEAR. 2G7 

Mrs Haldane Carteret to Miss Or oft on. 

' Chatleigh, April 18. 

' My dear Minnie, — I promised to write to you as soon 
as I arrived here, but I have been so busy, finding myself in 
a manner at home, and tant solt peu mistress of the house, 
that I could not manage it. No doubt you find it desperately 
dull at school, but then you are coming out after a while, 
and the vacation is not far off— and I can assure you I am 
almost as dull here as you are. I have my own way in 
everything, to be sure ; but then that is not of much use, 
unless one has something in view which it is worth while 
to be persistent about. And really the old gentleman, 
though he is a dear nice old thing and sweet-tempered to a 
degree, is very tiresome. 

' Tou know, of course, from mamma's letter, that Hal- 
dane is not coming for a week or two. He has to remain in 
London to meet Mr Baldwin on some very important busi- 
ness. I believe it is simply that Haldane is to be made 
trustee and guardian to our little nieces, if their father dies, 
and that cannot be anything very particular ; but then, you 
know, there never were such children. (I am sure I shall 
not wish mine to be made such a fuss with, not that it is in 
the least likely.) Everything that concerns them must be 
fussed and bothered about in the most intolerable way. 

' A great deal of this is Lady Davyntry's fault ; I must 
say, though she and I are the greatest friends — as such near 
relations ought to be — she does worry me sometimes. How- 
ever, she is not here to worry me now ; she is at the Deane, 
and writes to Mr Carteret almost every day, of course about 
nothing but the children. If they are made so much of now 
when they are infants, what will it be when they are grown 
up enough to understand, and be utterly spoiled by it, as of 



268 A RIGHTED WRONG. 

course they must be ? It would not be easy to imagine 
worse training for the heiresses ; however, you don't want 
me to moralize about them, but to tell you some news. And 
so I would, my dear Minnie, if I had any to tell, but I have 
not. 

' Mr Dugdale is, if possible, less amusing than ever : but 
I see very little of him. He has installed himself in poor 
Margaret's room— fortunately for me it is not the best room, 
as I suspect I should have had some difficulty in making 
him decamp, for he is excessively pertinacious in a quiet way, 
and as for Mr Carteret interfering, one might as well expect 
one of his pinned butterflies to stand up for one's rights ; so 
there he generally is, except at meal-times, or when he is 
wandering about at Davyntry. The fact is, the house, and 
every one in it, is be-Baldwinized to an intolerable extent. 

' Of course I was dreadfully sorry for poor dear Margaret. 
I must have been, considering she was my sister-in-law, if 
even she had not been my greatest friend ; but there is 
reason in everything, and I should not be doing my duty to 
Haldane if I went on fretting for ever ; there's nothing men 
dislike so much in women as moping, or an over-exhibition 
of feeling. I assure you if she had died only last week — and 
after all, the melancholy event took place at the Deane, you 
know, and not here at all — the house could not be more 
mopey. 

'I don't think it is quite fair to me, considering the state 
of my health, and that my spirits naturally require a Little 
rousing ; and really sometimes, when I can get nothing out 
of Mr Carteret but " Tes, my dear," or " No, my dear," and 
when I know he is thinking rather of Margaret or of the 
collection — such a lot of trash as it is, and it takes up such 
a quantity of room — I am quite provoked. And as for Mr 
Dugdale, it is worse ; for though he is very polite, I declare 



AFTER A YEAR. 269 

I don't think lie ever really sees me, and I am sure, if lie 
was asked suddenly, on oath, lie could not tell whether my 
hair is red, black, or gray. And it is a nuisance when there 
are only two men in the house with one that they should be 
men of that sort. 

' I don't suppose it will be much better when Haldane 
comes, for I fancy there* is not the faintest chance of any 
company ; nothing but Carteret and Crofton, Crofton and 
Carteret, — after a whole year, too, it is a little too bad. I 
have slipped out of mourning, though, that's, a comfort. Tou 
know I never look well in black, and it is not the dress after 
all, is it ? Haldane thought I might go on with the grays 
and lilacs, but mourning, however slight, is not considered 
lucky, and though I am not at all superstitious myself, it 
would never do to offend other people's prejudices, would it? 

' There is really nothing to look forward to until you come 
home, except, perhaps, a visit from Eobert Meredith ; and 
he is only a boy ; but he is very clever and amusing, and 
greatly inclined to 'make a fool of himself about me. Of 
course it would not do to encourage him if he were older ; 
but it does me no harm, and keeps him out of mischief. His 
father has sailed for Melbourne. I really have no more to 
say, as of course you get all the home news from mamma. — 
Tour affectionate sister, 

' Lucy Caeteeet. 

' P.S. I have just heard from Haldane. It is almost 
settled that he is to leave the army. Mr Baldwin is going 
in a few days to the East, and intends to be away for three " 
years at the least.' 



270 



A EIGHTED WKONG. 



CHAPTEE XXIV- 

TWENTY TEAES APTEE. 

An unusually beautiful day, in an exceptionally beautiful 
summer, and a grand old mansion, in all its bravery, wearing 
its best air of preparation and festivity. Even in the merest 
outline such a picture has its charms ; and that which the 
sunshine lighted up on one particular occasion, about to be 
described, merited close attention, and the study of its every 
detail. 

Sheltered by a fine plantation, which, in any other than 
the land of flood and fell, might have been called a forest, 
and situated on the incline of a conical hill, the low park 
land, picturesquely planted, stretching away from it, until 
lost in the boundary of trees beneath, — a large, imposing 
house, built of gray, cut stone, presented its wide and lofty 
facade to the light. The architecture was irregular, pictur- 
esque, and effective ; and now, with its numerous windows, 
some sparkling in the sunshine, others thrown wide open to 
admit the sweet air, the Deane had an almost palatial 
appearance. Along the front ran a wide stone terrace, from 
which three flights of steps, one in the centre, and one at 
either end, led down to an Italian garden, intersected by 
the wide avenue. 

Large Erench windows opened on this stone expanse, 
and now, in the lazy summer day, the silken curtains were 
faintly stirring, and the sound of voices, and of occasional 
low laughter, came softly to the hearing of two persons, a 
man and a woman, who were seated on a garden bench, in 
an angle of the terrace. The countless sounds of Nature, 



TWENTY YEARS AITEK. 271 

■which make a music all their own, were around them, and 
the scene had in it every element of beauty and joy ; but 
these two persons seemed to be but little moved by it, to 
have little in common with all that surrounded them and 
with the feelings it was calculated to suggest. 

They -were for the most part silent, and when they spoke 
it was sadly and slowly, as they speak upon whom the 
memory of the past is strong, and who habitually live in it 
more than in the present. There was a deference in the 
tone and manner of the woman, which would have made an 
observer aware that though the utmost kindliness and un- 
restraint existed in her relations with her companion, she 
"was not his equal in station ; and her manner of speaking, 
though quite free from all that ordinarily constitutes vul- 
garity, would have betrayed that difference still more plainly. 

She was a tall woman, apparently about forty years old, 
and handsome, in a peculiar style. Her face was not refined, 
and yet far from common ; the features well formed, and the 
expression eminently candid and sensible. Health and 
content were plainly to be read in the still bright complexion 
and clear gray Irish eyes. She wore a handsome silk dress, 
and a lace cap covered her still abundant dark hair, and in 
her dress and air were unmistakable indications of her 
position in life. She looked what she was, the responsible 
head of a household, authoritative and respected. 

"We have seen her before, many years ago, on board the 
ship which brought Margaret Hungerford to England ; Mar- 
garet Hungerford, who has slept for nearly tw r enty years 
under the shade of the great yew in the churchyard, which 
is not so far from the Deane but that sharp eyes can mark 
where the darker line of its solemn trees crosses the woods 
of the lower park land. The years have set their mark upon 
the handsome Irish girl, who had won such trust and affec- 



it i A RIGHTED WRONG. 

tion from the forlorn young widow, who had done with it all 
now, all love and fear, all sorrow and forlornness, and need 
of help, for ever. Not only for ever, but so long ago, that 
her name and memory were mere traditions, while the trees 
she had planted were still but youngsters among trees, and 
the path cut through the Fir Field by her directions was 
still known as the ' new ' road. 

' There, on the spot where she had often sat with Bald- 
win and talked of the future, which they were never to see,. 
Margaret's friend, humble indeed, but rightly judged and 
worthily trusted, sat, this beautiful summer's day, in the 
untouched prime of her health and strength and comeliness, 
and talked of the dear dead woman ; but vaguely, timidly, 
as the long dead are spoken of when they are mentioned at 
all to one from whom the years had not obscured her, though 
they had gathered the dimness which age brings around 
every other image of the past and of the future. 

He with whom Kose Doran talked was an old man, but 
older in mind and in health than in years, of which he had 
not yet seen the allotted number. Of a slight, spare figure 
always, and now so bowed that the malformation of the 
shoulders was merged in the general bending weakness of 
the frame, and the stooped head was habitually held down- 
wards, the old man might have been of any age to which 
infirmity like his could attain. Even on this warm day he 
was wrapped in a cloak lined with fur, and his white trans- 
parent face looked as if warm blood had never coloured the 
fine closely- wrinkled skin, on which the innumerable lines- 
were marked as though they had been cunningly drawn by 
needles. He wore a low-crowned, wide-leaved soft hat, and 
scanty silver locks showed under the brim ; but if the hat 
had been removed it would have been seen that the head 
which it had covered was almost entirely bald, and of the 
same transparent ivory texture as the face. 



TWENTY TEARS AFTER. 273 

It would be difficult to imagine anything more fragile- 
looking than the old man, as he sat, wrapped in his cloak, 
Iris bowed shoulders supported by the angle of the terrace, 
and his hands, long, white, and skeleton-like, placidly folded 
on his knees. The only trace of vigour remaining in him 
was to be found in the eyes, and here expression, feeling, 
memory yet lingered, and sometimes gave forth such gleams 
of light and purpose as seemed to tell of the youth of the 
soul within him still. 

A crutch stood against the wall by his side, and a thick 
stick, with a strong ivory handle, lay upon the bench. These 
were unmistakable signs of the feebleness and decay which 
had come to the old man, but they would not have told a 
close observer more than might have been learned by a 
glance at his feet. They were not distorted, none of the ugly 
shapelessness of age and disease was to be seen there. They 
were slim, and shapely, and neatly attired, in the old-fash- 
ioned silk stocking and buckled shoe of a more polite 
and formal period, but they were totally inexpressive. Ko 
one could have looked at the old man's feet set comfortably 
upon a soft lambskin rug, but remaining there quite mo- 
tionless, without seeing that they had almost ceased to do 
their work. "With much difficulty, and very slowly, by the 
aid of the crutch and the stick, they would still carry him a 
little way from the sunny sitting-room on the ground floor 
to the sunny corner of the terrace, for the most part— but 
that was all. 

He was not discontented that it should be all, for he suf- 
fered little now in his old age — perhaps he had suffered as 
much as he could before that time came ; and was no more 
irritable. or peevish. A little tired, a little wondering be- 
times that he had so long to wait, while so many whose day 
had promised to be prolonged and bright in its morning had 

18 



274 A RIGHTED WRONG. 

passed on, out of sight, before him : hut a happy old man, 
for all that, in a quiet, musing way, and ' very little trouble 
to any one.' 

Tes, that was the general opinion of Mr Dugdale, old 
Mr Dugdale, as the household, for some unexplained reason, 
called him, and few things vexed the spirit of Gertrude 
Baldwin so nearly beyond bearing, as the assurances to that 
effect which her aunt, Mrs Carteret, was in the habit of pro- 
mulgating to an inquisitive and sympathizing neighbourhood. 
Eor Mrs Carteret (she had been the eldest Miss Crofton a 
great many years ago) was not of a very refined nature, and 
it is just possible that when she commented on Mr Dugdale's 
reduced and sometimes almost deathlike appearance, to the 
effect that any one ' to see him would think he could die off 
quite easily,' she rather resented his not availing himself of 
that apparent facility without delay. He did not, however ; 
and Mrs Carteret was the only person who ever found the 
gentle, kindly man in the way, and she never dared to hint 
to her husband that she did so. 

Her niece inherited from her dead mother all the quick- 
sightedness which made her keen to see and to suffer, where 
her affections were concerned, and the first seeds of dissen- 
sion had been sown some years before, between the aunt and 
the niece, by the girl's perceiving that ' old ' Mr Dugdale 
was not considered by Mrs Carteret as such an acquisition 
to the family party at the Deane as its fair and gentle, but 
high-spirited, young mistress held him to be. It was on 
that occasion that Gertrude had contrived, very mildly and 
very skilfully, but still after a decided and unmistakable 
fashion, to remind her aunt of the fact that she, and not Mrs 
Carteret, was the lady of the house in which the old man 
had been found de trop ; and thence had originated a state 
of things destined to produce most unforeseen consequences. 



TWENTY YEAKS AFTER. 275 

The immediate result, however, had been an increased 
observance in manner, and an additional dislike in reality, to 
Mr Dugdale, on the part of Mrs Carteret, which the old man 
perceived — as indeed he perceived everything, for his powers 
of observation were by no means enfeebled — but which it 
never occurred to him to resent. What could it possibly 
signify to him that Mrs Carteret did not like him, and wished 
it might be in her power to get rid of him ? It was not in 
her power ; it was not within the compass of any earthly 
will to separate him from Margaret's child ; and as for Mrs 
Carteret herself, it is to be feared that old Mr Dugdale, after 
the saturnine fashion of his earlier years, cherished a quiet 
contempt for that lady, while he readily acknowledged that 
she was a good sort of woman in her way. It was not in 
his way, that was all. 

Mrs Doran was especially devoted to Mr Dugdale, to 
whom she owed the prosperous position which she had held 
in the household at the Deane for so many years now, that 
she was as much a part of the place to the inhabitants as the 
forest trees or the family portraits. Consequently she was 
not particularly attached to Mrs Carteret, and presumed oc- 
casionally to criticise that lady's proceedings after a fashion 
which, had she been aware of it, would have gone far to 
fortify her in one of her favourite and most frequently-ex- 
pressed opinions, that it was a great mistake to keep servants 
too long. ' They always presume upon it, and become im- 
pertinent and troublesome.' 

But Mrs Carteret would never have ventured to include 
Mrs Doran among the ' servants ' otherwise than in her most 
private cogitations. Rose was a privileged person there, by 
a more sacred if not a stronger right than that of Mrs Car- 
teret herself. 

But on this bright, beautiful day, when the old man had 



276 A EIGHTED WRONG. 

come out upon the terrace to bask awhile in the genial sun- 
shine, why was Eose Doran with him ? Ordinarily he had 
younger, fairer companions, in whose faces and voices there 
were many happy, sad memories for him, and whose love and 
care brightened the days fast going down to the last setting 
of the sun of his life. They were absent to-day, and the two 
to whom, of all the numerous household at the Deane, the 
day had most of retrospective meaning were alone together. 

' It's wonderful how well I remember her, sir,' Eose was 
saying ; ' sometimes that is. There's many a day I disre- 
member her entirely, but when I do think about her — as to- 
day — I can see her plain. And I'm glad, somehow, I never 
saw her in her grandeur ; for if I did, an' all the years that 
have gone by since then, I couldn't but think no one else 
had a right to it.' 

' I understand what you mean, Eose, and when I remem- 
ber her, sometimes, as you say, it isn't in her grandeur, but 
as she was when you and she came home first.' 

' Yes, sir, and you saw us goin' in at the door of the little 
inn — who'd ever think there'd be a hotel as big as Morrison's, 
and a deal cleaner, in the very same place now ? — and you 
not knowin' us, and she seein' you in a minute. Isn't it 
strange, Mr Dugdale, to remember it after twenty, ay, more 
than twenty years ? How long is it then, sir, rightly ? ' 

' Twenty-three years and some months, Eose.' 

' True for you, sir. And now Miss Gerty's to be her own 
mistress, and no one to say by your leave or with your leave 
to her, the darling ! The master would have been a proud 
man, rest his soul ! this day.' 

The old man did not notice her remark. But after a 
little while, as if he had been thinking over it, he bowed the 
bent head still lower, and moved the thin white hands, and 
sighed. 



TWENTY TEARS AFTER. 277 

' Are you chilly at all, sir P ' asked his quickly-observant 
companion. ' The sun is shifting a little ; would you like to 
go in ? ' 

1 No,' he replied ; and then asked, after, a pause, ' How 
are they getting on ? ' 

'Beautifully,' Rose answered. ' The house is a picture ; 
and as to the ball-room, nothing could be more beautiful. 
Miss Eleanor has it all done out with flowers, and I'm only 
afraid she'll be tired before the time comes for the dancing. 
Do you think you'll be able to sit up to see it, sir ? ' 

' I don't know, Rose ; but I will try. Gerty seems to 
wish it so much, foolish child ; as if it could make any dif- 
ference to her that an old man like me should be there to 
see her happy and admired.' 

' An' why shouldn't she ? ' remonstrated Rose in a tone 
almost of vexation. ' Do you think the children oughtn't 
to have some nature in them ? If Miss Gerty was no bet- 
ter nor a baby when the mistress — the Lord be good to 
her ! — was taken, and Miss Eleanor never saw the smile of 
her mother's face at all, sure they know about her all the 
same, and it's more and not less they think about her, the 
older they grow, and the better they know the want of a 
mother, through seeing other people with mothers and 
fathers and friends of all kinds, and no one to dare to deny 
them — not that I'm sayin' or thinkin' there's any one would 
harm innocent lambs like them, nor try to put between 
them — but the world's a quare world, Mr Dugdale, and 
they're beginnin' to find it out, and the more they know of 
it, the more they miss the mother they never knew at all, 
and the father they did not know much about — and the 
more they cling to them that did know, and can tell them. 
Many's the time, Mr Dugdale, that Miss Gerty has said to 
me, "Isn't it odd that Uncle James remembers mamma 



278 A RIGHTED WEONG. 

much better than Uncle Carteret or Aunt Lucy remember 
her, and can tell us much more about our father ? — and yet 
they were all young people together, and near relations, and 
he wasn't." And it was only the other day, when you told 
Miss Gerty she was to have the poor mistress's picture for 
her comin' of age, she says to me, " There's Uncle and Aunt 
Carteret couldn't tell me whether it's like her or not ; and 
there's Uncle James knows all about it, and can tell when 
I'm like her and when Nelly is, and yet they say old people 
forget everything." Beggin' your pardon, sir, for saying 
you're old, but the dear child said the very words. An' so, 
if she didn't want you to-night to see her in her glory, and 
to be like the smile of the father and mother that's in 
heaven upon her, I wouldn't think much of her, Mr Dug- 
dale, 'deed I wouldn't then.' 

' Well, well, Eose, it seems the children are of your 
opinion, for they have made me promise to sit up as late as 
possible ; and I have heard as much about their dresses as 
either their maids or yourself, I'll be bound.' 

' An' beautiful they'll look in them, Mr Dugdale, par- 
ticularly Miss Gerty. Don't you think she grows wonder- 
fully like her mother ? Not that I ever saw her look 
bright and happy like Miss Gerty ; but I think she must 
have been just like her, after she was married to the poor 
master. Tou know I went away before that, sir ; but per- 
haps you disremember.' 

' No, no, Eose, I remember. I remember it all very 
well, because she told me if she wanted you and could not 
send for you herself I was to do so, because Mr Baldwin 
did not know you. No, no ; it is a long time ago, a very 
long time, but I don't forget, I don't forget.' 

' An' you see the likeness, sir ? ' 

' Tes, I see the likeness, I see it very plainly ; as we 



TWENTY YEARS AFTER. 279 

grow old, time seems so much shorter that it does not ap- 
pear at all strange to me that I should remember her so 
well. There were many years during which I could hardly 
recall her face even when I was looking at the picture, but 
all that dimness seems to have cleared away now, and all 
my memory come back. Gerty is wonderfully like her, 
only more placid ; her manner is more like her father's.' 

They were silent for a time, during which Rose Doran 
knitted diligently, — her fingers were never idle, and her sub- 
ordinates in the household said the same of her eyes and 
ears, — and then she began to talk again. 

' It'll be a fine ball, sir. They say the beautifulest, ex- 
cept the Duke's, that ever was in this part of the country. 
And sure, so it ought, for where's there the like of Miss 
Baldwin of the Deane for beauty or for fortune either ? An' 
what could be too good in the way of a ball for her ? ' 

There was a note of challenge in the Irishwoman's voice. 
Mr Dugdale observed it with amusement, and replied, 

' I dare say it will go off very well. Mrs Carteret is a 
good hand at this kind of thing.' 

' She is,' said Eose shortly ; ' and as it's Miss G-erty's 
money it's all to come out of, she'll have no notion of saving 
anything.' 

This was the nearest approach to a frank expression of 
her not-particularly-exalted opinion of Mrs Carteret on which 
Eose had ever ventured, and Mr Dugdale did not encourage 
her to pursue it by any remark ; but, observing that the girls 
had said they would come out to him, and were after their 
time, and that he would go and look for them, he began to 
make slow preparations for a change of place. 

Eose's steady arm aided him, and he was soon proceeding 
slowly along the terrace, his crutch under his left arm and 
his stick in his right hand, while Eose walked by his side. 



280 A SIGHTED WEOBTG. 

As he slowly and apparently painfully dragged himself along 
— only apparently, for he rarely suffered pain now — Mr 
Dugdale presented a picture of decrepitude which contrasted 
strangely with a picture which any observer, had there 
chanced to be one upon the terrace that day, might have 
seen, and which he and Hose stood still to look at with in- 
tense pleasure. 

Through the open windows of a large room upon the ter- 
race the interior was to be seen. The apartment was of 
splendid dimensions, and the richly-decorated walls and ceil- 
ing were ornamented with classical designs appropriate to 
the festive purposes of a ball-room. . A bank of flowers was 
constructed to enclose a space designed for an orchestra, and 
several musical instruments were already arranged in their 
places. 

A grand piano was in the middle, and a lady was seated 
before it, whose nimble fingers were flying over the keys, 
producing the strains of a brilliantly provocative and inspirit- 
ing valse. The lady was not'alone. In the centre of the 
room, whose polished floor was almost as bright and slippery 
as glass, stood two young girls, the arms of each around the 
waist of the other, their heads thrown back, their eyes 
beaming with laughter, and their hearts beating with the ex- 
ertion of the wild dance they had just concluded. 

As Mr Dugdale and Rose drew near the window, the 
pause for breath came to a conclusion, the music gush- 
ed forth, more than ever inviting, and the dancers were 
off again, spinning round and round in their girlish glee in 
a boisterous exaggeration of the figure of the dance, irre- 
sistibly merry and attractive. They flew down the length 
of the room, crossed to its extremity, and came whirling up 
to the central window. There stood Mr Dugdale with up- 
lifted threatening stick, and Rose, with her knitting dropped, 



TWENTY YEARS AFTER, 281 

fascinated with admiration. Then they checked their head- 
long career, and, with some difficulty, came to a stop oppo- 
site the pair on the terrace, laughingly shaking their heads 
in imitation of the pretended rebuke they were conveying. 

' A rational way to rehearse for your ball, G-erty,' said 
Mr Dugdale, as he stepped, with the assistance of the young 
girl's ready hand, into the room, followed by Rose. ' And a 
capital plan for you, Nelly, who are so easily tired. Tou 
silly children, don't you think you will have enough dancing 
to-night ? ' 

' JN"ot half enough,' replied one of the girls, 'not quarter; 
none of the people will, stay after five or six at the latest.' 

' I should hope not, indeed,' said Mr Dugdale. ' And you 
are resolved to begin punctually at ten ; you are unconscion- 
able.' 

' And then you know, Uncle James,' said the girl whom 
he had called G-erty, ' we cannot dance together to-night ; 
we are grown up, you know, hopelessly grown up ; it's awful, 
isn't it ? and besides — besides, Aunt Lucy tempted us with 
her beautiful playing — and the floor is so delightful; and 
now don't you really, really think it will be a delightful 
ball ? ' 

' I have not the smallest misgiving about it, Gerty, 
though I don't know much of balls. But I am sure Mrs 
Carteret will join me in urging you not to tire yourselves 
any more just now.' 

Mrs Carteret left the piano, and joined the girls, who 
immediately entered on a discussion of the measures already 
taken for the beautiiication of the ball-room, and the possi- 
bility of still farther adorning it, which was finally pro- 
nounced hopeless, everything being already quite perfect, 
and the party adjourned to luncheon. 



282 A RIGHTED WRONG. 

So the years had sped away, and all the fears, and hopes, 
and sorrows they had given hirth to had also come to their 
death, according to the wonderful law of immutability, and 
were no more. The mother in her marble tomb beneath the 
yew-tree, the father in his unmarked' grave in the desert, 
but united in the country too far off for mortal ken or com- 
prehension, were well-nigh forgotten here ; and their children 
were women now. 

The little party assembled at the Deane on this occasion 
— the twenty-first anniversary of Gertrude Baldwin's birth 
— had but little sadness among them, and were visited with 
but slight recollections of the far .distant past. Twenty 
years is a long time. No saying can be more trite and more 
true ; yet there are persons and circumstances, and, more 
than all, there are feelings, which are not forgotten, ignored, 
killed in twenty years. 

There were two unseen guests that day at the table— at 
whose head Mrs Carteret, who was in a gracious, not to say 
gushing mood, insisted on Gertrude's taking her place for 
the first time — whose presence Mr Dugdale felt, though he 
was an old man now, and his fancy was no longer active. 
He had his place opposite to Gertrude, and from it he could 
see, hanging on the wall behind her chair, her father's por- 
trait. It was a fine picture, the work of a first-rate artist, 
and the face was full of harmony and expression. The 
graceful lines, the rich colouring of youthful manhood, were 
there, and the sunny blue eyes smiled as if they could see 
the gay girls, the handsome, self-conscious, self-important 
woman, the wan and feeble old man. From the portrait 
Mr Dugdale's glance wandered to the girlish face and figure 
before him and just under it; and a pang of exceeding been 
and bitter remembrance smote him — ay, after twenty years. 

Gertrude Meriton Baldwin was a handsomer girl than 



TWENTY YEARS AFTER. 283 

her mother had been, but wonderfully like her. No trouble, 
no care, no touch of degradation, humiliation, concealment, 
bitterness of any kind, had ever lighted on the daughter's 
well-cared-for girlhood, which had been permitted all its 
natural expansion, all its legitimate enjoyment and careless 
gladness. No passion, unwise and ungoverned, had come 
into her life to trouble and disturb it too soon — to fill it 
with vain illusions, and the sure heritage of disappointment. 
A happy childhood had grown into a happy girlhood, and 
now that happy girlhood had ripened into a womanhood, 
with every promise of happiness for the future. 

She was taller than her mother, and had more colour ; 
but the features were almost the same. The brow was a 
little less broad, the lips were fuller, but the eyes were in 
no way different, so far as they had been called upon for 
expression up to the present time ; they had looked like 
Margaret's, and no doubt would so look in every farther 
development of life, circumstance, and character. 

Eleanor, who amused herself during the luncheon, — at 
which Mr Dugdale was unusually silent, and Mrs Carteret 
occupied herself rather emphatically, on the plea that din- 
ner was a doubtful good when a ball was in preparation, — 
was not in the least like her father, her mother, or her 
sister. She was very small, delicately formed, and fragile 
in appearance, with a clear dark complexion, large black 
eyes, and a profusion of glossy black hair, which, especially 
when in close contrast with the clear gray eyes and soft 
brown hair of her sister, gave her a foreign appearance, of 
which she was quite conscious and rather proud. 

Hitherto there had been no difference in the lot of the 
sisters. The childish joys and sorrows of the one had been 
those of the other, and girlhood had brought to them no 
separate fortune. Nor were things materially altered now. 



284 A RIGHTED WEONG. 

The independence of action which G-ertrude attained upon 
this day would be Eleanor's in a very short time, and in 
point of wealth they were nearly equal. For each there had 
been a long minority. Eleanor Davyntry had not long 
survived her brother, and all her disposable fortune was her 
younger niece's. Apart from their orphanhood, no girls 
could have had a more enviable lot than the two who were 
in such wild spirits on that summer's day, which invested 
one of them with all the dignity of legal womanhood, and 
all the responsibility of a great heiress. 

Eleanor was of a different temperament from that of 
Gertrude, more vehement, more passionate, less self-reliant, 
less sustained. Hitherto the difference had shown itself 
but seldom and slightly, and there had been little or nothing 
to develop it. But a shrewd observer would have noticed 
it, even in the manner in which each regarded the promised 
pleasure of the evening, in the easy joyousness of the one, 
and the passionate eagerness of the other. 

When luncheon had nearly reached a conclusion, the 
sound of wheels upon the drive sent Eleanor rushing to 
the window. A stylish dog-cart, in which were seated a 
tall, fine-looking, rather heavy middle-aged man and an ir- 
reproachable groom, was rapidly approaching the house. 

' It is uncle,' said Eleanor ; ' now we shall know for cer- 
tain who's coming from Edinburgh. What a good thing 
you thought of the telegraph, aunt ! ' 

' Yes,' said Mrs Carteret. ' When one has to put people 
up for the night, it is better to know exactly how many to 
expect.' 

In a few minutes Haldane Carteret was in the room, and 
had handed an open telegraphic despatch to Gertrude. 

' They're all coming, you see,' he said good-humouredly ; 
' and yoidl be glad to hear, Lucy, there's no doubt about 



EOBERT MEEEDITH. 285 

Meredith. He has got that troublesome business settled, 
as he always does get everything settled he puts his mind to, 
and he will be down by the mail, and here by eleven.' 

' That is delightful,' said Gertrude, with frank outspoken 
pleasure. ' You have brought nothing but good news, uncle.' 

' And the programmes — isn't that what you call them ? 
I hope they're all right.' 

' I'm sure they are. — Aunt, what room are you going to 
give Mr Meredith ? ' 

Then ensued a domestic discussion, in which Gertrude 
and Mrs Carteret took an active share; but, Eleanor stood 
looking out of the window, and did not utter a word. 



CHAPTEE XXV 

EOBEET MEEEDITH. 



The twenty years which had rolled over the head of 
Eobert Meredith, the anxiously expected guest, since last 
we saw him, may be thus briefly recapitulated. The school 
selected by James Dugdale for his protege's education was 
the now celebrated, but then little heard-of, Grammar-school 
of Lowebarre. Not that the alumni, as they delight to call 
themselves, recognize their old place of education by any 
such familiar name. To them it is and always will be the 
Eairfax-school ; they are ' Eairfaxians,' and the word Lowe- 
barre is altogether ignored. 

The fons et origo of these academic groves, pleasantly 
situate in the immediate vicinity of the metropolis, was one 
Sir Anthony Fairfax, a worthy knight of the time of Queen 
Elizabeth, who, having lived his life merrily, according to 
the fashion of the old English gentlemen of those days, more 



28G A RIGHTED WRONG. 

especially in the matter of the consumption of sack and the 
carrying out of the droits de seigneurie, thought it better 
towards his latter days to endeavour to get up a few entries 
on the other side of the ledger of his life, and found the 
easiest method in the doing a deed of beneficence on a large 
scale. This was nothing less than the foundation of a school 
at Lowebarre, where a portion of his property was situate, 
for the education of forty boys, who were to be gratuitously 
instructed in the learned languages, and morally and religi- 
ously brought up. How the scheme worked in those dark 
ages it is, of course, impossible to say. 

But ten years before Robert Meredith was inducted into 
the arcana of the classics the Fairfax school was in a very 
low state indeed, and the Fairfaxians themselves were no 
better than a set of roughs. The head-master, an old gentle- 
man who had been classically educated, indeed, but over 
whose head the rust of many years of farming had accumu- 
lated, took little heed of his scholars, whose numbers con- 
sequently dwindled half-year by half-year, and who, as they 
neglected not only the arts but everything else but stone- 
throwing and orchard-robbing, had no manners to soften, and 
became brutal. 

This state of affairs could not last. One of the governors 
or trustees acting under the founder's will saw that not 
merely was the muster-roll of the school diminishing, but 
its social status was almost gone. He called a meeting of 
his coadjutors, impressed upon them the necessity of taking 
vigorous steps for getting rid of the then head-master, and 
of at once procuring the services of a man ready to go with 
the times. Advertisements judiciously worded were sent to 
all the newspapers, inviting candidates for the head-master- 
ship of the Fairfax school, and dilating in glowing terms on 
the advantages of that position ; but time passed, and the 



ROBERT MEREDITH. 287 

post yet remained open. Those who presented themselves 
were too much of the stamp of the existing holder of the 
situation to suit the enlarged views of the trustees, and it 
was not until Mr Warwick, the governor who had first sug- 
gested the reform, busied himself personally in the matter, 
that the fitting individual was secured. 

The Bev. Charles Crampton, who, having taken a first- 
class in classics and a second in mathematics, having been 
Fellow of his college and tutor of some of the best men of 
their years, had finally succumbed to the power of love, and 
subsided into a curacy of seventy-five pounds a year, was Mr 
Warwick's selection. He brought with him testimonials of 
the highest character ; but what weighed most with Mr 
Warwick was the earnest recommendation of James Dug- 
dale, who had been Mr Crampton's college friend. 

Poor Charles Crampton, when he sacrificed his fellowship 
for love, had little notion that he would have to pass the 
remainder of his life in grinding in a mill of boys. To study 
the Fathers, to prepare two or three editions of his favourite 
classic authors, to play in a more modern and refined manner 
the part of the parson in the ' Deserted Village,' had been 
his hope. But though the old adage was not followed, 
though when Poverty came in at the door (and she did come 
speedily enough, not in her harshest, fiercest aspect it is true, 
but looking quite grimly enough to frighten an educated and 
refined gentleman), Love did not fly out of the window, yet 
Charles Crampton had suffered sufficiently from turpis egestas 
to induce him at once to accept the offer. 

The salary of the Fairfax head-mastership, though not 
large, quintupled his then income ; the position held out to 
him was that of a gentleman, and though he had not any 
wild ideas of the dignity and responsibility of a school-master- 
ship, the notion of having to battle in aid of a failing cause 



288 A RIGHTED WEONG. 

pleased and invigorated him, more especially when he re- 
flected that, should he succeed, the kudos of that success 
would be all his own. 

So the Beverend Charles Crampton was installed at 
Lowebarre, and the wisdom of Mr "Warwick's selection was 
speedily proved. Men of position and influence in the 
world, who had been Mr Crampton's friends at college ; 
others, a little younger, to whom he had been tutor ; and 
the neighbouring gentry, when they found they had resident 
among them one who was not merely a scholar and a man of 
parts, but by birth and breeding one of themselves, — sent 
their sons to the Fairfax school, and received Mr and Mrs 
Crampton with all politeness and attention. 

By the time that Bobert Meredith arrived at Lowebarre 
the school was thoroughly well known ; its scholars num- 
bered nearly two hundred ; its ' speech-days ' were attended, 
as the local journals happily expressed it, ' by lords spiritual 
and temporal, the dignitaries of the Bar, the Bench, and the 
Senate, and the flower of the aristocracy ; ' while, source of 
Mr Crampton's greatest pride, there stood on either side of 
the Gothic window in the great school-hall, on a chocolate 
ground, in gold letters, a list of the exhibitioners of the 
school, and of the honours gained by Fairfaxians, at the 
two universities. 

To a boy brought up amidst the incongruities of colonial 
life the order and regularity of the Fairfax school possessed 
all the elements of bewildering novelty But with his 
habitual quietude and secret observation Bobert Meredith 
set himself to work to acquire an insight into the characters 
both of his masters and his school-fellows, and determined, 
according to his wont, to turn the result of his studies to 
his own benefit. 

The forty boys provided for by the beneficence of good 



EOBERT MEREDITH. 2b9 

old Sir Anthony Fairfax — ' foundation-boys,' as they were 
called — were now, of course, in a considerable minority in 
the school. They were for the most part sons of residents 
in the immediate neighbourhood ; but for the benefit of those 
young gentlemen who came from afar, the head-master re- 
ceived boarders at his own house, and at another under his 
immediate control, while certain of the under-masters en- 
joyed similar privileges. 

The number of young gentlemen received under Mr 
Crampton's own roof was rigidly limited to three ; for Mrs 
Crampton was a nervous little woman, who shrunk from the 
souud of cantering bluchers, and whose housekeeping talent 
was not of an extensive order. The triumvirate paid highly, 
more highly than James Dugdale thought necessary; and 
Hayes Meredith was of his opinion. The boy would have 
to rough it in after-life, he said, — ' roughing it ' was a 
traditional idea with him, — and it would be useless to bring 
the lad up on velvet. So that Robert found his quarters in 
!Mr Crampton's second boarding-house, where forty or fifty 
lads, all the sons of gentlemen of modern fortune, dwelt in 
more or less harmony out of school-hours, and were presided 
over by Mr Boldero, the mathematical master. 

On his first entry into this herd of boys, Eobert Meredith 
felt that he could scarcely congratulate himself on his lines 
having fallen in pleasant places. He had sufficient acuteness 
to foresee what the lively youths amongst whom he was about 
to dwell would reckon as his deficiencies, and consequently 
would select and enter upon at once to his immediate op- 
probrium. That he was colonial, and not English born, 
would be, he was aware, immediately resented with scorn by 
his companions, and regarded as a reason for overwhelming 
him with obloquy. It was, therefore, a fact to be kept most 
secret ; but after the lapse of a few days it was inadvertently 

19 



290 A EIGHTED WKONG. 

revealed by the ' chum ' to whom alone Robert had mentioned 
the circumstance. When once known it afforded subject for 
the keenest sarcasm; ' bushranger,' 'kangaroo,' 'ticket-of- 
leave,' were among the choice epithets bestowed upon him. 

It would not be either pleasant or profitable to linger 
over the story of Robert Meredith's school-days. They have 
no interest for us beyond this, that they developed his dis- 
position, and insensibly influenced all his after-life. He re- 
garded his schoolmates with scorn as unbounded as it was 
studiously concealed, and he cultivated their unsuspecting 
good-will with a success which rendered him in a short time, 
in all points essential to his comfort, their master. He made 
rapid progress in his studies, and kept before his mind with 
steadiness which was certainly wonderful at his age — and, 
had it been induced by a more elevated actuating motive, 
would have been most admirable — the purpose with which 
he had come to England. 

When the end of his schoolboy life drew near, and the 
much longed-for University career was about to begin, 
Robert Meredith took leave of Mr Crampton with mutual 
assurances of good-will. If the conscientious and reverend 
gentleman had been closely questioned with regard to his 
sentiments concerning his clever colonial pupil, he must have 
acknowledged that he admired rather than liked him. But 
there was no one to dive into the secrets of his soul, and in 
the letter which Mr Crampton addressed to Mr Dugdale on 
the occasion, he gave him, with perfect truth, a highly favour- 
able account of Robert Meredith, of which one sentence 
really contained the pith. ' He is conspicuous for talent,' 
wrote the reverend gentleman ; ' but I think even his abilities 
are less marked than his tact, in which he surpasses any 
young man whose character has come under my observation.' 

' So in argument, and so in life — tact is a great matter.' 



ROBERT MEKIODITII. 291 

Beliold the guiding spirit of Robert Meredith's career, even 
in its present fledgliug days. It was tact that made him 
eschew anything that might look like ' sapping,' or rigidity 
of morals, as much as he eschewed dissipation and actual 
fast life while at college. It was tact that made his wine- 
parties, though the numbers invited were small, and the 
liquids by no means so expensive as those furnished by many 
of his acquaintances, the pleasantest in the University. It 
was tact that took him now and then into the hunting-field, 
that made him a constant attendant at Bullingdon and 
Cowley Marsh, where his bowling and batting rendered him 
a welcome ally and a formidable opponent ; and it was tact 
which allotted him just that amount of work necessary for a 
fair start in his future career. 

Eobert Meredith knew perfectly that in that future 
career at the bar the honours gained at college would have 
little weight- — that the position to be gained would depend 
materially upon the talent and industry brought to bear 
upon the dry study of the law itself, upon the mastery of 
technical details ; above all, upon the reading of that greatest 
of problems, the human heart, and the motives influencing 
it. To hold his own was all he aimed at while at college, 
and he did so ; but some of his friends, who knew what 
really lay in him, were grievously disappointed when the 
lists were published, and it was found that Eobert Mere- 
dith had only gained a double second. George Eitherdon 
grieved openly, and refused to be comforted even by his 
own success, and by the acclamations which rang round the 
steady reading set of Bodhamites when it was known that 
George Bitherdon's name stood at the head of the first class. 

The two friends were not to be separated — that was 
Eitherdon's greatest consolation. Mr Plowden, the great 
conveyancer of the Middle Temple, had made arrangements 



292 A SIGHTED WEONG. 

to receive both of them to read with him ; and in the very- 
dingy chambers occupied by that great professor of the law 
they speedily found themselves installed. A man overgrown 
with legal rust, and prematurely drowsy with a life-long 
residence within the ' dusty purlieus of the law,' was Mr 
Plowden ; but his name was well known, his fame was 
thoroughly established ; many of his pupils were leading 
men at the bar ; and the dry tomes which bore his name as 
author were recognized text-books of the profession. 

Moreover, James Dugdale had heard, from certain old 
college chums, that underneath Mr Plowden's legal crust- 
there was to be found a keen knowledge of human nature, 
and a certain power of will, which, properly exercised, would 
be of the greatest assistance in moulding and forming such 
a character as Eobert Meredith's. It was, therefore, with 
a comfortable sense of duty done that James Dugdale saw 
the young man established in Mr Plowden's chambers, and, 
from all he had heard, he was by no means sorry that Eobert 
was to have George Eitherdon as his companion. 

There are certain persons who seem to be specially de- 
signed and cut out by nature for prosperity, and with 
whom, on the whole, it does not seem to disagree. They 
bear the test well, they are not arrogant, insolent, or appar- 
ently unfeeling, and they make more friends than enemies. 
Such people find many true believers in them, to surround 
them with a sincere and heartfelt worship, to regard all 
their good fortune as their indisputable right, and resent 
any cross, crook, or turning in it as an injustice on the part 
of Providence, or ' some one.' We all know one person at 
least of this class, for whose ' luck ' it is difficult to account, 
except as ' luck,' and of whom no one has anything unfa- 
vourable to say, or the disposition to say it. 

Eobert Meredith was one of this favoured class of 



KOBBET MEREDITH. 293 

persons. He bad the good fortune to possess certain ex- 
ternal gifts which go far towards making a man popular, 
and under which it is always difficult, especially to women, 
to believe that a cold heart is concealed. The bandsome 
lad had grown up into a handsomer man, and one chiefly 
remarkable for bis easy and graceful manners, which har- 
monized with an elegant figure and a voice which had a very 
deceptive depth, sweetness, and impressiveness of intonation 
about it. 

The ardent admirer, the unswerving true believer, in 
Meredith's case was, as we have seen, George Eitherdon ; 
and it would have been curious and interesting to investigate 
the extent and importance of the influence of tbis early 
contracted and steadily maintained friendship on the lives 
of both men, and on the estimation in which Meredith was 
held by the world outside that companionship. 

He would have been very loth to believe that any par- 
ticle of bis importance, a shade of warmth in tbe manner of 
bis welcome anywhere, an impulse of confidence in his 
ability, leading to his being employed in cases above his 
apparent mark and standing, were the result of an unex- 
pressed belief in George Eitherdon, a tacit but very general 
respect and admiration for the earnest, honest, irreproach- 
able integrity of tbe man, who was clever, indeed, as well as 
good, but so much more exceptionally good than exception- 
ally clever, that the latter quality was almost overlooked by 
his friends, who were numerous and influential. Wherever 
George's influence could reach, wherever his efforts could 
be made available, Meredith's interests were safe, Meredith's 
ambition was aided. 

Katurally of a frank and communicative disposition, 
liking sympathy and tbe expression of it, fond of his home 
and his family, and ever read}- to be actively interested in 



294 A RIGHTED WRONG. 

all that concerned them, there was not an incident in his 
history, direct or indirect, with which he would not have 
made his ' chum ' acquainted on the least hint of the 
' chum's ' desiring to know it ; and, in fact, Eobert Mere- 
dith, who had too much tact to permit his friend to per- 
ceive that his communicativeness occasionally bored him, 
was in thorough possession of his friend's history past and 
present. 

B ut this was not reciprocal, except in a very superficial 
scale. Bobert Meredith was perhaps not intentionally 
reticent with George Bitherdon, and it occurred very sel- 
dom to the latter to think his friend reticent at all, but he 
was habitually cautious. The same quality which had made 
him a taciturn observer in the house at Chayleigh, able to 
conceal his dislike of Mr Baldwin, and to appreciate 
thoroughly without appearing to observe the tie which 
bound James Dugdale to his old friend's daughter, now in 
his manhood enabled him to win the regard of others, and 
to learn all about them, without letting them either find 
out much about him, or offending them, or inspiring them 
with distrust by cold and calculated reserve. 

As a matter of fact, George Eitherdon knew very much 
less of his friend than his friend knew of him, and of one 
portion of his life he was in absolute ignorance. It was that 
which included his residence at Chayleigh, and his subse- 
quent relations with the families of Carteret and Baldwin. 
George had heard the names in casual mention, and he 
knew that when Meredith went for a fortnight or so to 
Scotland in the ' long ' he went to a place called the Deane, 
where a retired officer of artillery, named Haldane Carteret, 
lived, who kept a very good house, and gave ' men ' some 
very capital shooting. 

But George did not shoot ; and had he been devoted to 



ROBERT MEREDITH. 295 

that manly pursuit, he would never have thought it in the 
least unkind or negligent in Meredith to have omitted to 
share his opportunities in that way with him ; he would 
never have thought about it at all indeed ; so the Deane 
was quite unknown territory, even speculatively, to this 
good fellow. He knew nothing of the young heiress and 
her sister. No stray photograph or missish letter,- left 
about iu the careless disarray of bachelor's chambers, had 
ever excited George's curiosity, or led to ' chaff' on his part 
upon Meredith's predilection for travelling north, whenever 
he could spare the time to travel at all, upon his indifference 
to ' the palms and temples of the south.' George was not 
an adept in the polite modern art of ' chaff,' and few men 
could have been found to offer less occasion for its exercise 
than Robert Meredith. 

It had sometimes occurred to George to wonder why a 
man so popular with women, so ' rising ' as Robert Meredith, 
a man who had undoubtedly, in default of some untoward 
accident, a brilliant professional career and all its concomi- 
tant social advantages before him, had not married ; but this 
was a matter on which he would not have considered that 
even their close friendship would have justified him in put- 
ting any questions to Meredith. 

The tu quoque which might have been Meredith's reply 
was of easy explanation. George Ritherdon had had a dis- 
appointment in his youth, and had never thought seriously 
about marriage since. The disappointment had taken place 
iu his early imprudent days, when no connection, even dis- 
tantly collateral, existed in his mind between money and 
marriage, and he had long since arrived at the conviction 
that, even if it did come into his head or heart to fall in 
love again, he could not afford to marry, and therefore must, 
acting upon the gentlemanly precepts which had always 



296 A RIGHTED WKONG. 

governed him, resist any such inclination as dishonourable 
to himself and ungenerous towards its object. 

The world had ' marched ' to a very quick step indeed 
since the days of George's almost boyhood, when the beauti- 
ful but penniless Camilla Jackson had fascinated him ' into 
fits ' at a carpet dance in the neighbourhood of his father's 
house, and he had forthwith set to work, in the fervent realms 
of his imagination, to fit up, furnish, and start a most desir- 
able and charming little establishment, to be presided over 
by that young lady in the delightful capacity of wife. Of 
course the beautiful Camilla was always to be attired in the 
choicest French millinery and the clearest white muslins. 
Laundresses' bills had no place, nor had those of the modiste, 
in the unsophisticated imagination of the young man, and 
breakages were as far from his thoughts as babies. 

George had lived and learned since then, and he dreamed 
no more dreams now ; he knew better. Unless some tre- 
mendous, wholly unexpected, and extravagantly unlikely 
piece of good luck should come in his way — something about 
as probable as the adventures of Sindbad or Prince Cama- 
ralzaman, in which case he would immediately look about 
for an eligible young lady to take the larger share of it off 
his unaccustomed hands — George would now never marry. 

Camilla had disdained the white muslin and the millinery 
regardless of the washing bill, of which indeed she had early 
been taught by an exemplary and fearfully managing mother 
to be ceaselessly reminiscent ; and George not unfrequently 
saw her now in a carriage, the mere varnish whereof told of 
wealth of perfectly aggressive amount, in a carriage cram- 
med with healthy, clean, rich-looking children, and gorgeously 
arrayed in velvets and furs of great price. 

That Meredith was not a marrying man was the con- 
clusion at which George Eitherdon arrived, when he dis- 



ROBERT MEREDITH. 297 

cussed with himself the oddity of the coincidence which 
threw them together, and speculated upon how long the en- 
gagement would last. 

In one respect the friends were very differently circum- 
stanced. George Ritherdon had ' no end ' of relations, 
cousins by the score, aunts and uncles in liberal proportions. 
But Robert Meredith was a lonely man. His colonial origin 
explained that. He had never sought to renew any of the 
ties of family connection broken by his father when he left 
England ; he had found friends steady and serviceable, and 
he wisely preferred contenting himself with them to culti- 
vating dubiously disposed relatives. Boy though he was, he 
made a correct hit in this. 

' If they were likely to be any use to me, my father 
would have put me in some kind of communication with 
them ; he certainly would have looked them up when he 
came home, which he never did.' 

Therefore Robert never troubled himself more about any 
of the family connections on this side of the world, and, in- 
deed, troubled himself very little about those on the other. 
As time went by he was accustomed to say to himself that 
he knew they were all getting on well, and that was enough 
for him. Sometimes he wondered whether he should ever 
see them again ; whether, if he did not ' see his way ' here, 
he might not go in for colonial practice ; whether one or 
more of his brothers, children when he saw them last, might 
not take the same fancy which he had taken for seeing the 
old world. But nothing of all this happened. 

Robert Meredith had neared the end of his college 
career when intelligence of his father's death reached him, 
and caused him genuine, if temporary, suffering. His 
thoughts went back then to the old home and the old times, 
and he did feel for a time a disinterested wish that he had 



298 A RIGHTED WRONG. 

been with his mother — how she had loved him, how she 
loved him still, through all those years of separation ! — 
when this calamity came upon her. The necessity for a 
large correspondence with his brothers, and the feeling, 
always a terrible one in cases where a long distance lies 
between persons affected by the same event, that his father's 
death had taken place while he was quite unconscious of it, 
and was already long past when he heard of it, touched 
chords dulled if not silenced. 

The account which he received of family affairs was pros- 
perous : one of his sisters was already married, the other 
would follow her example after a due and decorous lapse of 
time. His brothers were to carry on Hayes Meredith's 
business, in whose profits his father left him a small share. 
Altogether, apart from feeling — and it was unusual for 
Eobert Meredith to find it difficult to keep any matter of 
consideration apart from feeling — the position of affairs was 
eminently satisfactory, and the young man, ambitious, indus- 
trious, and self-reliant, felt that he and his were well treated 
by fate. 

He felt the blank which his father's death created a good 
deal. He had corresponded with him- very regularly, aud 
the freshness and vigour, the plain practical sense and 
shrewdness of the older man's mind had been pleasant and 
useful to the younger. He had not expected the event, 
either. Hayes Meredith was a strong, hale, athletic man, 
and his son had always thought of him as he had last seen 
him. No bad accounts of his health had ever reached Eobert, 
and he had never thought of his father's death as a probable 
occurrence. 

On the whole this was the most remarkable event, and 
by many degrees the most impressive, which had befallen in 
Meredith's life, and its influence upon him was decidedly 



TIME AND CHANGE. 299 

injurious. He had always been hard, and from that time he 
became harder — not in appearance, nothing was more cha- 
racteristic of the young man than his easy and sympathetic 
manner, but in reality he felt more solitary now that the one 
bond of intellectual companionship between him and his 
home was broken, and this solitude was not good for him. 
As for his mother, he was apt to think of her as a very good 
woman in her way — an excellent woman indeed. A man 
must be much worse than Robert Meredith before he ceases 
to believe this of his own mother ; but she knew nothing 
whatever of the world — of the old world particularly — and 
could not be made to understand it. He wrote to her — he 
never neglected doing so ; but there was more expression 
than truth of feeling in his letters, and the mail day was not 
a pleasant epoch. 



CHAPTER XXVI. 

TIME AND CHANGE. 



"While Mr Carteret lived, Robert Meredith had been a 
frequent visitor at Chayleigh. The quiet, eccentric old gen- 
tleman had remained in the old house, and had faithfully 
guarded his beloved collection to the last. But that em- 
porium of curiosities had not received many additions after 
Mrs Baldwin's death. The old man had taken, after a time, 
a little feeble pleasure in it, it is true ; but only because 
those about him had acted on the hint which Margaret her- 
self had given them, after the death of Mrs Carteret, and 
persuaded him to resume his care of the collection because 
his daughter had been so fond of it. 

Always quiet, uncomplaining, and kind to every one, the 



300 A RIGHTED WEONG. 

old man would have had rather a snubbed and subdued 
kind of life of it, under therule of Haldane's bouncing Lucy, 
but for the vigilance of James Dugdale. That silent and 
unsuspected sufferer sedulously watched and cared for the 
old man, and Mrs Haldane, who by no means liked him, so 
far respected and feared him that she never ventured to dis- 
pute any of his arrangements for Mr Carteret's welfare. 

He continued to like Lucy ' pretty well,' and to regard 
Robert Meredith with special favour, though he lived long 
enough to see Robert pass quite out of the category of ex- 
ceptional boys. Indeed, so much did he like him, that at 
one time he entertained an idea of bequeathing to him the 
famous collection, after the demise of James Dugdale, 
who was to have a life interest in its delights and trea- 
sures ; but on the old gentleman's broaching the subject to 
him one day, Robert Meredith put the objections to the 
scheme so very strongly to him, that he acknowledged the 
superior wisdom of his young friend, bowed to his decision, 
and liked him more than ever for his disinterestedness. 

Robert represented to him that, though the possession 
of the collection must afford to any happy mortal capable of 
appreciating it the purest and most lasting gratification, not 
so much the pleasure of the individual as the preservation, 
the dignity, and the safe-keeping of the collection itself 
ought to be considered. Unhappily, he, Robert Meredith, 
was not likely to possess a house in which the treasure 
might be conveniently and suitably lodged, and it was a 
melancholy fact that neither Haldane nor his wife appreci- 
ated the collection ; and, when the present owner of Chay- 
leigh should be no more, and his bequest should have come 
into operation, there would arise the grievous necessity of 
dislodging the collection. 

"Under these circumstances — stated very carefully by 
Robert Meredith, who knew that his particular friend Mrs 
Haldane would bundle both James and the collection out 



TIME AND CHANGE. 301 

of doors with the smallest possible delay on the commence- 
ment of her absolute reign, unless indeed some very valuable 
consideration should attach itself to her not doing so — he 
suggested that Mr Carteret would do well to conquer his 
objection to the ' merging ' of the collection. That it should 
be ' merged ' after his death was a less painful contingency 
to contemplate than that it should be destroyed or mate- 
rially injured. The best, the most effectual plan would be, 
that Mr Carteret should bequeath the collection, on James 
Dugdale's death, to his granddaughter, the heiress of the 
Deane, with the request that it might be transferred thither, 
there to remain as an heirloom for ever. The old gentle- 
man submitted with a sigh ; and this testamentary arrange- 
ment was actually made. 

The friendship between Robert and Mrs Haldane, which 
had commenced in his boyish admiration of her, and her 
keen appreciation of the sentiment, remained unabated, 
which, considering that the pretty and vivacious Lucy was 
not conspicuous for steadiness of feeling, was not a little 
remarkable. Perhaps the lady believed in her secret soul, 
as the years wore on, that she could have explained Eobert's 
not being a marrying man. 

A strictly proper and virtuous British matron was Mrs 
Haldane Carteret — a very dragon of propriety indeed, and a 
lady who would not have received her own sister, if she had 
been so unlucky as to ' get talked of ' — and therefore this 
insinuation must be fully explained, in order to prevent the 
slightest misapprehension on the subject. Lucy would have 
been unspeakably shocked had it ever been said or thought 
by any one that Eobert Meredith entertained any feeling 
warmer than the most strictly regulated friendship for her ; 
but she did not object to a secret sentiment on her own part, 
which sometimes found expression in reverie, and in a mur- 
mured ' poor boy,' in a little genial sense of satisfaction as 
the time went by and Eobert did not marry, and was not 



302 A EIGHTED WEONG. 

talked of as likely to marry — when his polite attention to 
her underwent no alteration, and she still felt she enjoyed 
his confidence. Mrs Haldane was a little mistaken in the 
latter particular. She did not enjoy the confidence of Robert 
Meredith ; but neither was any other person in possession 
of that privilege, though it was one of the charms, or rather 
the achievements, of his manner, that he could convey the 
flattering impression to any one he pleased. 

"When Haldane and his wife were put, by the death of 
Mr Carteret, in possession of Chayleigh — an event which 
occurred seven years after Margaret's decease, and four years 
later than that of Mr Baldwin — James Dugdale continued 
to reside in the old house, which had been his home for so 
many years, only until the return of Lady Davyntry and 
her orphan nieces to England. Haldane Carteret, a ' good 
fellow ' in all the popular acceptation of the word, was rather 
a weak fellow also, especially where his pretty wife's whims 
or feelings were concerned ; and not all his sincere and 
grateful regard for his old friend could prevent his feeling 
relieved, when James told him he could not resist Lady 
Davyntry's pressing entreaty that he should take up his 
abode with her and ' the children.' Every one spoke of the 
orphan girls as ' the children,' and their fatherless and 
motherless estate was wonderfully tempered to them. 

The Deane had been let by Mr Baldwin's executors for 
a long term of years ; but James Dugdale applied to the 
tenant in possession for permission to have the collection 
transferred thither, and received it. Thus Mrs Haldane 
was disembarrassed within a very short period of her father- 
in-law and his incomprehensible curiosities and of James 
Dugdale. To do her justice, Mrs Haldane was sorry for the 
gentle, quiet old man ; and it certainly was not with refer- 
ence to him that she expressed her satisfaction, when all the 
Sittings had been accomplished, in ' being at last the mis- 
tress of her own house.' There must have been a good deal 



TIME AND CHANGE. 303 

of the imaginative faculty about Mrs Haldane Carteret when 
she rejoiced in her freedom from trammels ; for it never 
could have occurred to anybody that she had not been 
thoroughly and indisputably the mistress of Chayleigh from 
the clay of her arrival there. But there is a great deal in 
imagination., and Mrs Haldane knew her own business best. 

When James Dugdale left Chayleigh, as a residence, for 
ever, the passion-flower which embowered the window of 
the room which had once been Margaret's, and had ever 
since been his, was in the full beauty and richness of its 
bloom. He cut a few twigs and leaves, and one or two of 
the grand solemn flowers, and took his leave of the room 
and the window and the tree. It was very painful, even 
after all those years — more painful than those to whom life 
is full of activity and change could conceive or would be- 
lieve. But so thoroughly was this a final parting, and so 
truly did James Dugdale feel it so, that when, some time 
afterwards, Mrs Haldane, having read in some new medical 
treatise that ' green things ' — as she generally termed every- 
thing that grew, from the cedar of Lebanon to the parsley 
of private life — were unwholesome on the walls of a house, 
had the passion-flower and the trellis cleared away, and the 
wall above the verandah neatly whitewashed, it hardly gave 
him a pang. 

In all the changes which befell the family at Chayleigh, 
.Robert Meredith had a certain share. Mr Carteret never 
ceased to like him, to look for his coming, to enjoy, in his 
quiet way, the adaptive young man's society. James never 
permitted the interest he had taken in him for his old 
friend's sake — his old friend dead and gone now, like all the 
res t — to flag or falter. Perhaps he held by that feeling all 
the more conscientiously that he had never been much 
drawn towards Eobert Meredith individually. The feeling 
towards him which he and Margaret had shared at the first 
had remained with him always, like all his feelings ; for it 



304 



A RIGHTED WEONG. 



was part of the constitution of his mind, a part powerful for 
suffering, that he did not change. 

When Lady Davyntry went abroad with ' the children ' 
James Dugdale's life had become more than ever solitary ; 
and, though conscious that he derived very little pleasure 
from Bobert's presence, he encouraged the visits which Mrs 
Haldane was ever ready to invite. 

But a day of still greater change came — a sad and heavy 
day to James Dugdale, and of tremendous loss and evil to 
the orphan girls. Lady Davyntry died— not suddenly, but 
unexpectedly — and the full responsibility of the guardian- 
ship of Gertrude and Eleanor Baldwin was thrown upon 
Haldane Carteret and James Dugdale. Davyntry, in which 
Mr Baldwin's sister had only a life interest, passed into the 
possession of the young man who had succeeded to the title 
on the death of Sir Bichard Davyntry ; and the choice of 
the guardians to the young girls, as to the future home of 
their wards, lay between Chayleigh and the Deane, of which 
it became possible for them to resume possession shortly 
after Lady Davyntry's death. 

When the decision which assigned the Deane to the 
young heiresses as their future abode had been reached and 
acted upon, Bobert Meredith naturally ceased to have much 
intercourse with the Carterets and with James Dugdale. 

Haldane was very much pleased with the kind of life he 
led at the Deane. He made a first-rate ' country gentleman,' 
an ardent sportsman, a pleasant companion, hospitable, kind- 
hearted, insouciant, fond of the place and of everything in 
it, devoted to his wife — 'absurdly so,' as the spinsters of 
the neighbourhood, a remarkably numerous class even for 
Scotland, declared — and most indulgent and affectionate to 
his nieces. This latter quality the aforesaid spinsters ac- 
counted for satisfactorily on the double grounds, that it was 
not likely he would be anything but indulgent to such rich 



TIME AND CHANGE. 305 

girls — of course lie expected to be well recompensed when 
they came into ' all their property' — and that, as he had no 
children of his own, he might very well care for his ' poor 
dear sister's fatherless girls.' 

The worthy ex-captain of artillery knew little and cared 
less how people accounted for the strange phenomena of his 
fulfilling carefully and conscientiously a sacred duty. He 
was a good, happy, unsuspicious man, and ' the children ' 
loved him better than any one in the world, except James 
Dugdale and Bose Doran. | 

Mrs Carteret was in the habit of ' going south ' much 
more frequently than Haldane did so ; she liked a few weeks 
in London in the season, and she scrupulously visited her 
own family, by whom she was regarded with much affection 
and admiration, not quite unmingled with awe. 

The eldest Miss Crofton's ' match ' had ' turned out ' 
much better than the family had expected, and Lucy Car- 
teret shone very brilliantly indeed in the reflected light shed 
upon her by the wealth and station of her husband's nieces 
and wards. On the occasion of her visits to England she 
always saw a good deal of Robert Meredith ; and so — owing 
to the convenience of modern locomotion, Mrs Carteret's 
former home had been brought within easy reacb of London 
— Eobert was a not unfrequent guest of old Mr Crofton's 
when his daughter was sojourning there. Chayleigh had 
been advantageously let by Haldane for some years beyond 
the term of his nieces' minority. 

On the last occasion of her ' going' south ' Mrs Carteret 
had been accompanied by Eleanor Baldwin, whose health, 
always delicate, had recently occasioned her uncle and aunt 
some anxiety. She had enjoyed her trip, and Eobert had 
been very mucb with both ladies. Never had Mrs Carteret 
been more thoroughly convinced that he was one of the 
most charming of men ; never had the secret suspicion, that 
she could, if she chose, explain the reason of his having re- 

20 



306 A EIGHTED WRONG. 

/ 

mained up to his present age unmarried, presented itself so 
frequently and so strongly to her mind. 

Eobert Meredith had been told by Mrs Carteret that 
Haldane intended to celebrate the attainment of her majority 
by the heiress of the Deane in splendid style, and he had re- 
ceived from her a pressing invitation to be present on the 
occasion. The time of year made it difficult for him to feel 
sure of being able to leave town ; but he promised that he 
would go to the Deane on that auspicious and delightful oc- 
casion, then six months in perspective, if he could possibly 
manage it. 

It was during this visit of Mrs Carteret to London that 
George Eitherdon made her acquaintance, and saw for the 
first time one of ' the Baldwin children,' of whom he had 
heard occasional casual mention. Eobert Meredith's ' chum ' 
pleased Mrs Carteret much, especially when he did the 
honours of the Temple Church to her and Eleanor ; and 
while explaining all the objects of interest and their associ- 
ations, did so with a happy and successful assumption of 
merely refreshing their memory, which was indicative of the 
nicest tact. The general result was that, when Eobert 
Meredith received a formal reminder of his promise to come 
to the Deane for Gertrude's birthday, the letter enclosed a 
pressing invitation to George Eitherdon to accompany his 
friend. 

' Of course you'll come. There's much less to keep you 
in town than there is to keep me, for that matter, so you 
can't pretend to object,' said Meredith, as the friends were 
discussing their letters and their breakfast simultaneously. 

'I should like it very much indeed,' said Eitherdon ; 
< but—' 

' Very well, of course you'll do it,' interrupted Meredith ; 
and was about to say something more, wheu the entrance of 
their ' mutual ' servant suspended the conversation. 

The man addressed himself to Eobert, with the informa- 



THE HEIRESS OP THE DEANE. 307 

tion that a person was then waiting in the passage, who 
urgently requested to be admitted to see him ; that the person 
was an old man, not of remarkably prosperous appearance ; 
aud that he had replied to the servant's remonstrance, on 
his presenting himself at such an unseemly hour, that he 
was sure Mr Meredith would see him, for he came from 
Australia, and from his own ' people ' there. 

-Surprised, but by no means discomposed, Eobert Mere- 
dith made no reply to the servant, but said to George 
Eitherdon, 

' It sounds odd. I suppose I ought to see him.' 

' I think so, old fellow ; and I'll clear off; ' which he did. 

' Show the old person from Australia in, William,' said 
Meredith to the servant, and added to himself, ' I wonder 
what he has got to say to me — nothing I need mind. I 
should have had bad news by post, if there was any to send. 



CHAPTEE XXVII. 

THE HEIRESS OE THE DEA"N"E. 

' Are you nearly ready, girls ? ' asked Mrs Haldane 
Carteret of her nieces, as she entered the large dressing- 
room which divided the bed-rooms occupied by Gertrude 
and Eleanor Baldwin, and was joint territory, common of 
them both. 

This apartment was very handsomely proportioned, and 
furnished in a sumptuous style. It abounded in light and 
looking-glasses, and the two young girls then under the 
hands of their respective maids had the advantage of seeing 
themselves reflected many times in mirrors fixed and mirrors 
movable. Their ball-room toilette was almost complete, and 
the smaller supplementary articles of their paraphernalia of 
adornment were strewn about the room in pretty profusion. 



308 



A RIGHTED WRONG. 



' We are very nearly ready, Aunt Lucy,' replied Eleanor ; 
' are there any people come yet ? ' 

' Yes, the Congreves, and Kennies, and Comrie of Largs ; 
they always make a point of being the first arrivals and the 
last departures everywhere,' said Mrs Carteret, as she profited 
by the long mirror which formed the reverse of the door 
by which she had entered to rearrange the folds of her re- 
markably becoming dress of blue satin and silver. ' Pray 
make haste, Gerty. It does not so much matter about Nelly, 
but you really must be in the reception-room before any 
more people come. Just imagine your not being there 
when Lord and Lady Gelston arrive, or even Sir Maitland 
and Lady Cardeness.' 

Mrs Haldane Carteret was a woman of 'perfectly well- 
proportioned mind. She knew how to define the distinctions 
of rank as accurately as a king-at-arms, and could balance 
the comparative turpitude of a slight to a baron with that 
of a slight to a baronet with quite a mathematical nicety of 
precision. 

' Almost ready, Aunt Lucy. Only my gloves and brace- 
lets to put on, and then I am ready. But I certainly shall 
not go down without Kelly ; she would get on much better 
without me than I should without her' (here the girl smiled 
as her mother had smiled in the brief days of her happy and 
mtrnted love). 'We should have been ready sooner, but 
that we took a final scamper off to the guests' rooms to see 
how Rose had disposed of Mr Meredith and Mr Eitherdon.' 

'Ah, by-the-by, I suppose they have arrived,' said Mrs 
Carteret ; ' I must go and see them. I will come back p^ain, 
and I hope you will both be ready.' 

In a few minutes the preparations were complete, and 
the two young girls were receiving the unequivocal compli- 
ments of their maids and their mirrors. Happy, joyous, 
hopeful, handsome creatures they looked, as they stood, 
their arms entwined, surveying their lithe, graceful, white- 



c( 



THE HEIEESS OF THE DEANE. 309 

robed figures with natural pride and very pardonable vanity. 
The glance of the elder girl dwelt only passingly upon her- 
self; it turned then to dwell upon her sister with delight^ 
with exultation. 

' How beautiful you look, my darling Nelly ! I am sure 
no one in the room will be able to compare with you to- 
night,' 

' Not you, Gertrude ? Are you not the queen of the ball 
in every sense ? Depend upon it, no one will have eyes to- 
night for any one except the heiress of the Deane.' 

' Then every one will be blind and foolish,' returned Ger- 
trude, as she gave the speaker a sisterly push ; ' and there 
are a few whom I don't think that of, Nelly. Don't you 
dread the idea, of the speech-making at supper ? I do, and 
Uncle Haldane does, because he will have to return thanks 
for me ; and .I'm sure everybody else does, because Lord 
Gelston is so frightfully longwinded and historical, and so 
tremendously well up in the history of all the Meritons and 
all the Baldwins, and who married, and whom, and when 
they did it, and there's no. stopping him when he starts ; 
however, we must think of the dancing and the fun, and not 
remember the dreadful speeches until they come to be made.' 

' I dare say you won't mind them so much when the time 
comes,' said Nelly, with the least touch of something un- 
pleasant in her voice ; ' at all events, I need not — they will 
not make any speeches about me, that's a comfort ! ' 

' My darling Nelly ! as if I thought about it for myself. If 
you must listen and look pleased at tiresomeness, what does 
it matter of what is apropos ? and where is the difference 
between you and me ? ' 

' Very present, very perceptible, after this day,' said 
Nelly ; ' no one will fail to keep it in mind. Did you not 
notice what Aunt Lucy said ? My being ready or not did 
not matter, but the presence of " the heiress of the Deane " 
was indispensable. 



310 A RIGHTED WRONG. 

' I did hear it,' said Gertrude, turning a flushed cheek 
and a deprecatory glance upon her sister ; ' and did you not 
hear what I said ? But here come Aunt Lucy and Eose.' 

The entry of Eose Doran was the signal for enthusiastic 
comments on the appearance of the two young girls, and the 
little cloud which had threatened for a moment to gather 
over the sisters was joyously dissipated. Mr Dugdale wished 
to see them in his sitting-room, Eose said, before they went 
down-stairs, and she had come to bring them to him. 

' You'll have time enough to let the old gentleman have 
a peep at you, my darlings,' said the good woman, whose 
eyes were moist with the rising tears produced by many as- 
sociations which almost overpowered the admiration and 
delight with which she regarded the girls ; ' though there's 
a dale o' quality come, they're all in the study, makin' sure 
of their cloaks and things, or drinkin' coffee and chattin' to 
one another. So go to the old man, my girls ; he won't keep 
ye a minute.' 

' He surely won't disappoint us,' exclaimed Gertrude ; 
' he promised to come down, and he must ! ' 

' So he will, alanna,' said Eose, using the same term of 
endearment, and in the same soothing tone, with which she 
had been wont to assuage Gertrude's griefs in her childhood 
— ' never you fear, so he will, when the room is full, and he 
can get round behind the people to his own chair in the 
corner ; only he wants a look at you all to himself first.' 

' Then I will go on,' said Mrs Haldane in rather a vexed 
tone. ' You will find me in the morning-room ; and pray, 
Gerty, make no delay.' 

Then Mrs Haldane walked majestically away, her blue 
and silver train rustling superbly over the crimson-velvet 
carpet of the long, wide corridor, which, like the grand stair- 
case, was of polished oak. 

Mr Dugdale's rooms at the Deane were in a quiet aDd 
secluded part of the spacious house, attainable by a small 



THE HEIRESS OP THE DEAN. 311 

staircase which was approached by a curtained archway 
opening off the corridor into which the girls' rooms opened. 
The rooms were handsome, though not large, and were lux- 
uriously furnished, but they were chiefly remarkable for the 
numerous evidences of feminine care, taste, and industry in 
their arrangement. The comfortable and the ornamental 
were dexterously united in these rooms, in which needlework 
abounded, and whose most prized decorations were the work 
of the pencils of the two girls. 

The apartments consisted of three rooms — bed-room, 
dressing-room, and sitting-room, the latter lined with books, 
and bearing many indications that the studies, tastes, and 
habits which had occupied James Dugdale's youth and man- 
hood had lightened the burden of his infirmities, and taken 
the deadly sting out of his sorrows, were not abandoned 
now in his old age. And in truth this was the case ; the 
feebleness which had invaded the delicate and sensitive frame 
more and more surely with each succeeding year, had not 
touched the mind. That was strong, active, bright, full of 
vitality still, promising extinction or even dimness only with 
the dissolution of the frame. 

In his frequent fits of thinking about himself, and yet 
out of himself — as though he were contemplating the pro- 
blems presented by the existence, and pondering the future, 
of another — James Dugdale was wont to wonder at his own 
tenacity of life. Ever since his youth he had been a sufferer 
in body, and had sustained great trials of mind ; he had been 
always more or less feeble, and of the nervous febrile tempera- 
ment which, is said (erroneously) to wear itself out rapidly. 
But he had lived on and on, and the young, the strong, the 
prosperous, the happy, had passed before him, and been lost 
in the dimness of the separation of death. 

He had been carefully dressed by his servant for the 
festivities of the evening, and had lain down upon the couch 
beside the windows of his sitting-room, from which a beau- 



312 A EIGHTED WRONG. 

tiful view was to be had in the day-time, through which the 
summer moonlight was streaming now, and had fallen into a 
reverie. His mind was singularly placid, his memory was 
singularly clearly to-night, as he lay still, listening to the 
stir in the house, his face turned from the light of the can- 
dles which burned on the tables and the mantelpiece ; and 
passing in mental review the persons and the events of long 
years ago. 

How perfectly distinct and vivid they were to-night — 
his parents, his boyhood, the time when it was first discover- 
ed that he must never expect to be a healthy, vigorous man 
— his student days and their associations, the friends of that 
period of his life ! Hayes Meredith was a young man — how 
curiously his memory reproduced him ; and then his cousin 
Sibylla, his sole kinswoman and his steady friend — the old 
man who had loved him so well, and the sad dark episode of 
Margaret's marriage. How plainly he could see Godfrey 
Hungerford, and how distinctly he could recall the instinct- 
ive dislike, suspicion, repulsion he had caused him, and 
which he early learnt to know was bitter jealousy ! Baldwin 
and Lady Davyntry, that kind, sympathizing friend of later 
days — she whom he still mourned with a poignancy which 
time had blunted in the case of the others ; — it was hard to 
understand, very wonderful to realize, that they were dead 
and he alive — he went on with his ordinary life betimes, and 
did not think about it much, but to-night it seemed im- 
possible. 

The wonderful incompleteness, the unmeaningness of 
life, the phantasmagoria of fragmentary existences occupied 
him, while all around him were preparations for a festival. 
Lastly came the image of Margaret, back in all the freshness 
of her youth, beauty, and happiness, as she had been twenty 
years ago, and the old man wondered at the strange dis- 
tinctness of his memory. 

Twenty years ! a long, long time even at an earlier period 



THE HEIRESS OF THE DEANE. 313 

of life, a wonderfully long time at his, to keep the memory 
green. He had had and lost many friends, but only one 
love ; yes, that was the explanation ; that was why she, who 
had died young long ago, never to grow old, never to have 
any withering touch of time laid upon her beauty, she who 
was to be remembered as a radiant creature always, had 
never had a predecessor, a successor, or a rival in his heart ; 
so there was no other image to trouble or confuse hers. 
The circumstances which had killed her, as he felt, as surely 
as disease had ever killed, — they, too, returned freshly to his 
memory; he seemed to live through those old, old days 
again, and in some degree to realize once more their keen 
anxiety and distress. 

How it had all passed away — how little it had really 
mattered — how little anything really mattered, after all, ex- 
cept the other world, and the reunion there, without which 
life, the most renowned as much as the meanest, would in- 
deed be ' a tale told by an idiot,' and, in the multitude of 
the ages, and the spanlike brevity of its own duration, 'sig- 
nifying nothing ' ! It seemed like a dream, and yet it was 
all real : she had lived and suffered, feared, foreseen, and 
died under this very roof, beneath which be dwelt, and from 
which its master went forth a patient, but none the less a 
broken-hearted man, to die afar off, to lie in the solemn dust 
of the grand old world. 

Were they, the two whom he remembered so well in 
their youth and love and happiness, any nearer to him than 
the most ancient of the ancient dead ? Was there any dif- 
ference-or degree in all that inconceivable separation ? Who 
could tell him that ? Who could still the pang, which time 
can never lessen, which comes with the immeasurable change ? 
We are in time and space, and they, the dead, are, as we say, 
beyond their bounds, set free from them. What, then, is 
their share with us ? 

He was thinking of these things, which indeed were 



314 



A RIGHTED WRONG. 



wont to occupy his mind when he was very peaceful and 
alone, and thinking also how very brief all our uncertainty 
is — how short a time the Creator keeps His creatures in ig- 
norance and suspense, and that he was very near to the lift- 
ing of the curtain — when Gertrude and Eleanor Baldwin 
came into the room, and gaily challenged his admiration of 
their ball-dresses, their wreaths, their bouquets, and their 
general appearance. 

With the keenly strong remembrance of Margaret which 
he had been dwelling upon freshly before him, James Dug- 
dale was struck by the likeness which Gertrude presented to 
her mother. Her face was more strictly handsome, her figure 
promised to be fuller and grander, but the resemblance in 
feature, in gesture, in voice, in all the subtler affinities which 
constitute the truth of such resemblance, was complete. 
Had she stood thus, in her white dress, flower-crowned, by 
his couch, alone, James Dugdale might have thought the 
spirit world had unbarred its portals for a little to give him 
a glimpse of Margaret in her eternal youth ; but her arm 
was linked in that of her sister, and the old man's gaze in- 
cluded them both. 

' Do I like you, you witches ? ' said Mr Dugdale ; ' what 
a question ! I think you are both incomparably perfect, 
and among all the compliments you will hear to-night, I 
don't think you will have a more satisfactory one than that. 
I see you are wearing your pearls, Nelly.- — Where are your 
diamonds, Miss Baldwin ? ' 

Gertrude blushed, and looked a little uncomfortable. 

' I would rather not wear them,' she said ; ' pearls don't 
matter much, but diamonds would make too much difference 
between Nelly and me. I asked Uncle Haldane, and he 
said I certainly need not wear them unless I liked ; indeed, 
he said it is better taste for an unmarried woman, while she 
is very young, not to wear diamonds ; so they are undis- 
turbed in all their grandeur.' 



THE HEIRESS OP THE DEANE. 315 

' Isn't she ridiculous ? ' said Eleanor. ' I am sure if I 
were in her place I should wear my diamonds, especially to- 
night.' 

' I am quite sure you would do no such thing, Nelly,' 
said Miss Baldwin ; ' and we must go now, or Aunt Lucy 
will be put out. — Mind you come down soon; I shall be 
looking out for you.' 

Then the two girls kissed the old man affectionately and 
left him. There was some trouble in James Dugdale's mind 
when the light forms disappeared, and he listened to the 
murmur of their voices for a few moments, before it died 
away when they reached the grand staircase. 

' If Eleanor were in Gertrude's place ! ' The girl's words 
had struck a chord of painful remembrance in the old man's 
mind. The time had come now when the wrong done to 
the younger by the elder, the wrong done to the children 
by the parents in all unconsciousness, was to bear its first 
fruits. As the years had gone by, and especially since Lady 
Davyntry's death had left James Dugdale sole possessor of 
the knowledge of the truth, he had remembered it but 
seldom. 

When the news of Mr Baldwin's death had reached 
England, he and Lady Davyntry had spoken together much 
and solemnly of the mysterious dealings of Providence with 
the family They had silently accepted his resolution — ■ 
never to give Margaret a successor in his heart and house 
— and, in view of that determination, they had regarded the 
arrangement which he had made of his property as in every 
respect wise and commendable. But they had secretly 
hoped that time, whose unfailing influence, however dis- 
liked or even struggled against, they both had too much 
experience of life to doubt or dispute, would modify and 
finally upset Mr Baldwin's resolution on that point, and 
that the girls might eventually be removed from what they 
wisely regarded as a perilous and undesirable position. 



316 A SIGHTED WRONG. 

Wealth and station would always be theirs, even if a second 
marriage should give a male heir to the Deane. 

But these hopes were not destined to be realized. Mr 
Baldwin never returned from his journey to the East, and 
the heavy weight of heiress-ship fell upon his daughters in 
their childhood. Of late years the secret of which he alone 
was in possession had begun to appear dreamlike and 
mythical to James Dugdale. It had been a terrible thing 
in its time, but that time was past and its terror with it, 
and it was only an old memory now — an old memory which 
Nelly's words had awakened, just when he did not care to 
have it evoked, just when it was as painful as it ever could 
be any more. 

The old man rose from his couch and went to a bookcase 
with glass doors, which faced the mantelpiece in his sitting- 
room. On one of the lower shelves, within easy reach of his 
hand, lay a large blue-velvet casket. He took it out, set it 
on the table, and opened it. It contained a picture — the 
portrait of Margaret with her infant in her arms, which she 
had had painted for him at Naples twenty years before. The 
portrait was surrounded by a frame of peculiar design. It 
consisted of a wreath of passion-flowers, the stems and leaves 
in gold, the flowers in white enamel, with every detail of 
form and colouring accurately carried out. This was the 
only jeweller's work which had ever been done by James 
Dugdale' s order ; this was the most valuable article in every 
sense in his possession. He placed the picture on the table, 
and sat down before it and looked at it intently, studying 
in every line the likeness which had impressed him so deeply 
to-night ; and then he replaced it in the casket, which he re- 
consigned to the bookcase. This done, he rang for his serv- 
ant and went down to the ball-room, whence delightful 
strains of brilliant music were issuing, blended with the 
sound of voices and the tread of dancing feet. 

The scene was a beautiful one. All that money, taste, 



THE HEIBESS OP THE DEANE. 317 

and goodwill could accomplish to render the fete given in 
celebration of Gertrude's birthday successfully charming, 
had been done, and the result was eminently satisfactory. 
Many of the guests had come from distances which in Eng- 
land would have been regarded as invincible obstacles — - 
would indeed have rendered the sending of invitations a 
meaningless, or according to our amiable insular phrase a 
' French,' compliment — but which in Scotland were regarded 
as mere matters of course. An unusual number of pretty 
girls adorned the ball-room, and they danced with pleasure 
and animation also peculiarly Scotch. 

Gertrude had gone through the ordeal of congratulation 
very well ; and now, very much relieved that that part of the 
business had come to a conclusion, was dancing a surpris- 
ingly animated quadrille with Lord Gelston, while Lady 
Gelston was talking superlatives to Haldane Carteret, who 
had wisely decided, some years before, on coming to live in 
Scotland, that there was more to be gained than lost by be- 
ing understood at once, to be excluded from the category of 
dancing men. 

The room, much longer than its width, and beautifully 
decorated and lighted, was amply occupied without being 
over-filled ; and the splendid many-coloured dresses, the 
moving figures, the soft sound of speech and laughter, the 
indescribable joyous rustle which pervades an assemblage 
where youth and beauty are in the majority, made up a 
scene to whose attraction James Dugdale's nerves vibrated 
strangely. He had been present on few similar occasions 
in his life, and he looked about him with the pleased cu- 
riosity of a child. The military contingent had duly arrived 
from Edinburgh, Leith, and Hamilton, and were enjoying 
their accustomed popularity. 

Of the many faces in the room there were few known to 
James Dugdale, with the exception of those of the near 
neighbours to the Deane. Before he had time to become 



318 A RIGHTED WRONG. 

familiar with the movement and the glitter of the unaccus- 
tomed scene, a pause occurred in the dancing, and the group 
nearest to him broke up and moved away. Then he saw 
Eleanor Baldwin talking to a gentleman whose figure 
seemed very familiar to him, though he could not see his 
face. Eleanor was looking up at the gentleman, her face 
full of light and animation, a rich colour in her cheeks, her 
dark eyes sparkling with pleasure. Almost as soon as he 
saw her, she saw him, and said : 

' Oh, there's Uncle James ; let us go and speak to him.' 
She walked quickly across the room, followed by her 
companion, who was, as James Dugdale then perceived, 
Eobert Meredith. The old man and the man no longer 
young indeed, but still and ever a boy to him, greeted each 
other warmly. 

' When did you come, Eobert ? Why have I not seen 
you before ? ' 

' We came down by the mail, sir, and found the ladies 
gone to dress ; and Mrs Doran said you were resting, in 
preparation for the fatigue of the evening, so we would not 
disturb you. I am glad to see you looking so well, sir.' 
' Thank you, Eobert — where's Eitherdon ? ' 
' He has gone in chase of Gerty, Uncle James,' said 
Eleanor ; 'he wants to know what dances she can spare 
him, I believe ; but I fancy he has not much chance — even 
I could only promise positively for one.' 

Eobert Meredith looked at her narrowly as he said : 
' Eitherdon has pluck, I must say. I never dreamed of 
such a privilege as dancing to-night with the lady of the 
Deane. But I did calculate upon a raccroc de noces for to- 
morrow — I suppose that's safe ? ' 
' I suppose so,' said Eleanor. 

' You kept a few dances for me, didn't you ? ' he asked. 
' Tes, I did, but I am nobody, you know.' 
' This is one of them,' said Meredith, and then, as he led 



THE HEIKESS OF THE DEANE. 319 

her away into the throng, again set in motion by the music, 
he said meaningly, ' and I do not know, — at least, I do.' 

His arm was round her now, and he had whirled her into 
the circle of waltzers, and the girl felt that the bright scene 
was brighter, the music sweeter and more inspiriting, the 
dance more delightful, because of the words and the tone in 
which he had spoken them. 

George Eitherdon had been quite as unsuccessful in his 
quest as Eleanor had foreseen, and as soon as Gertrude had 
convinced him of his ill-fortune, by permitting him to read 
the record of the pretty little ivory and silver carnet which 
hung at her waist, he, in his turn, made his way to Mr 
Dugdale's chair. There he remained until Nelly's one 
dance should be ' due,' talking with the old man, who was 
wonderfully bright and unwearied of things in general, and 
of the young ladies in particular. 

It was an unfashionable peculiarity of George Bither- 
don's that he was always deferential towards age, even when 
age was much less venerable and less intelligent, much more 
arriere than in the case of Mr Dugdale. Therefore, let the 
subjects on which the old gentleman had chosen to talk with 
him have been as dull and uninteresting to him as possible, 
he would have exerted himself to converse about them plea- 
santly, and with the air of attention and interest which is 
the truest conversational politeness. 

But in the present instance no effort was required. 
Eitherdon felt a sincere and growing interest in ' the chil- 
dren,' as Mr Dugdale soon began to call them in talking to 
him, and found something which appealed to his heart — ■ 
strangely soft, pure, and upright in its impulses, considering 
the length of time it had pulsated amid the world, — in the 
lone-enduring, constant family friendship which bound the 
old man's life up with that of these young people, who were 
no kin of his. The ball was the gayest, the most success- 
ful, in George Eitherdon's opinion, at which he had ever 



320 A SIGHTED WEONG. 

' assisted,' the night a happy and memorable one in his life ; 
but no part of it was more thoroughly enjoyable to him than 
the time he passed seated by the old man's side, their con- 
versation interrupted only by the people who came up to 
speak to Mr Dugdale, and by the girls, who paid him flying 
visits. 

Robert Meredith and his friend saw little of each other 
during the night, until after James Dugdale had retired, 
which he did when supper was announced. That sumptu- 
ous entertainment was as terrible an ordeal as Gertrude 
had expected. Lord Gelston was as inexorably long-winded, 
as overwhelmingly genealogical as usual ; and if anything 
could have made her more uncomfortable than the ponder- 
ous congratulations of the noble lord, and the marked atten- 
tions of Lady Gelston and the Honourable Mr Dort, the 
eldest son of the distinguished but by no means wealthy 
pair, it would have been the kindly but inartistic efforts of 
her Uncle Haldane, who was neither a ready thinker nor 
an adept at speaking, to express how far short of her per- 
sonal qualities fell the gifts of wealth and station allotted 
to her. 

A very decent amount of general attention was bestowed 
upon Lord Gelston and Haldane Carteret, and the speeches 
of both were received with all proper enthusiasm ; but there 
was one listener who heard them with more than the atten- 
tion of politeness, and with a smile on his lips which, if ' the 
children's ' dead mother saw it, must have reminded her of 
one she had known and disliked in earthly days long ago. 
But even the speeches were over at last, and the younger 
guests left the banquet and returned to the ball-room, and 
dancing recommenced. Nothing equals in vigour and per- 
severance Scotch dancing, no entertainment is capable of 
such preternatural prolongation as a Scotch ball. The in- 
stitution might be the modern successor of the feasts of the 
Norsemen in the Bersekyr days. 



THE HEIKESS OP THE DKANE. 321 

' Do these people ever intend to leave off, do you think ? ' 
George Kitherdou asked of Eobert Meredith, when the ex- 
ternal light had become difficult of exclusion, and all the 
dowagers had given over talking and taking refreshment, 
except that of slumber. 

'I don't know indeed; doesn't look like it; but there's 
no reason why we shouldn't,' returned Meredith ; ' let us 
say good-morning to Mrs Carteret, and decamp.' 

A masterly manoeuvre, which they put into instant 
execution, unobserved by any one but Eleanor Baldwin. 
She had danced several times with Meredith during tbe 
night, and had contrived to give Eitherdon ' one more ' in 
addition to the promised valse ; she had been very gay, 
happy, and animated ; much admired and fully conscious of 
it ; but now she grew tired, and began to wish the ball were 
over. People were unreasonable to keep it up so late ; this 
was making a toil of a pleasure ; no, she really could not 
join in this interminable cotillon. She wondered whether 
Aunt Lucy would mind her leaving the room ; she would 
find her and ask her. So she did find Mrs Haldane Car- 
teret, who was looking rather yellow and elderly in the 
mixed intrusive light, and Mrs Haldane answered her rather 
snappishly. 

'Yes, yes, of course you may go. It is really absurdly 
late ; no wonder you're tired ; I am sure I am. Gerty must 
remain of course, but you may go.' 

Eleanor had got the permission she desired, and she left 
the room, but not gladly. The manner of that permission 
did not please her ; many little things of the same kind had 
hurt her lately ; and as she slowly mounted the stairs her 
face was dark, and she muttered to herself, 

' Gerty must of course remain, but you may go.' 

An hour later, when the morning had fairly asserted its 
sway, when the latest lingering of the guests not staying in 

21 



322 A EIGHTED WKONG. 

the house had departed, fortified by hot strong coffee against 
the fatigue of their homeward route, when to those staying 
in the house welcome announcement had been made that 
breakfast was to be served at twelve, and continued for an 
indefinite time, — Gertrude Baldwin entered her dressing- 
room. She had desired that her maid should not remain 
up, and having glanced into Eleanor's bed-room, and seen 
that she was asleep, she took off her ball- dress, set the win- 
dows wide open, and sat down in her dressing-gown, letting 
the sweet morning air play upon her face to calm the hurry 
of her spirits and to think. 

This had been an eventful day for that young girl ; in- 
deed, the whole preceding week, during which her guardians, 
Haldane Carteret and James Dugdale, had explained to hei 
in resigning their trust all the particulars of her position, 
had been of great moment in her life. Previously she had 
known, vaguely, that she was very rich, and she had had a 
tolerably clear notion of the origin and ordering of hei 
wealth, but she fully understood it now. Her uncle had 
wished her to give her attention to the accounts of the 
estate, as he explained them to her, and she had complied 
with his wish. In the course of these transactions she had 
been shown her father's will, and had been made acquainted 
as minutely with her sister Eleanor's position as with hei 
own. 

The time up to that day had been so full of business, and 
all the hours of the day and night just gone had been so full 
of pleasure, that she felt strongly the need of a little leisure 
and solitude now. She was glad Nelly was asleep, glad she 
had not been obliged to talk over the ball with her — glad tc 
put the ball itself out of her thoughts for a little, although 
she had enjoyed it with all the unaffected zest of her age. 

Gertrude was not tired ; she had danced incessantly. 
and the emotions of the day had been many and various 
but she was strong and very happy, in all the unruffled 



THE HEIRESS OF THE DEANE. o23 

peace of her girlhood, which had only progressed hitherto 
in prosperity, and she rarely felt fatigue. The fresh morn- 
ing air, the calm, the solitude, were better for her than 
sleep. Presently a delicious stillness fell on everything ; 
no more doors were shut or opened, no desultory footsteps 
loitered about ; the birds' music only filled the air with the 
most beautiful of the sounds of morning:. 

There came with the day to Gertrude a sense of change. 
She realized her womanhood now — she realized her position, 
and it appeared to her a very solemn and responsible one. 
Her uncle had told her, in answer to her request, that he 
would continue to exercise the functions from which the 
attainment of her majority formally discharged him — that 
he would do so provided she would take an active part in 
the conduct of the estate, urging the necessity which existed 
for her duly qualifying herself for the independent adminis- 
tration of her affairs in the future. He reminded her that 
she could only hold the property in trust for her children, 
if she were destined to become a wife and mother, and must 
therefore learn how to save from her large income. 

' You see, my dear,' Haldane had said to her, ' everything 
not included in the entail is left absolutely to Nelly, and in 
this respect she is better off than you are. She is not in- 
deed so rich, but she can dispose of her property, by settle- 
ment and by will, just as she pleases, whereas you cannot 
dispose of a shilling. Tour eldest son, or your eldest daugh- 
ter, if you have no son, must inherit all. The estate is 
chargeable for the benefit of younger children to a very 
small extent. I will show you how and how much presently. 
The fortune your grandfather gave to your aunt, Lady 
Davyntry, and which Eleanor inherits from her, was almost 
entirely derived from accumulations and other extraneous 
property. So, you see, Nelly's money is more absolutely 
hers than yours is yours ; but though you have not so much 
freedom, there is one advantage in your position. If you. 



324 



A RIGHTED WKONG. 



fall into bad hands, which God forbid, and we will take all- 
possible care to prevent — yes, Gerty, don't look so horrified, 
my child, all the men in the world are not good, as your 
poor mother could have told you — your money will be safe - y 
no man can beggar you ; whereas Eleanor would be quite 
helpless in such a case. There is nothing to protect her ; 
her husband, if he could only persuade her to marry with- 
out a strict settlement, could make ducks and drakes of her 
money, if he chose.' 

' But surely she never would be persuaded to do anything 
so foolish and so unprincipled,' said Gertrude, with a pretty 
air of dignity, woman-of-the-worldishness, and landed pro- 
prietor combined, and feeling already as if she had the deep- 
est appreciation of the rights, privileges, and duties of pro- 
perty. 

' I don't know that, my dear,' said Haldane ; ' women are 
easily persuaded to folly, and there are men who have a knack 
of persuading you that imprudence is generosity, and self- 
sacrifice proved by endangering other people's peace and 
prosperity— as your poor mother could also bave told you. 
However, we need not make ourselves prematurely uncom- 
fortable about Nelly. Let us hope her choice may be wise 
and happy, and that she may use the freedom her father and 
her aunt left her with discretion.' 

The discussion then turned upon other matters of busi- 
ness, and this part of the subject was abandoned. 

It returned to Gertrude Baldwin's thoughts as she looked 
pensively abroad on her wide domains in the early morning, 
and it troubled her. 

' "We were both so little when he left us,' she thought, 
' that I don't think my father could have preferred Nelly very 
much to me, and my mother only saw her for a minute be- 
fore she died. Bose told me she had scarcely strength to 
hold the baby to her breast, and not strength enough to 
speak a word to it, so she cannot have loved her more than 



THE HEIRESS OF THE DEANE. IJ2-J 

rae ; I was with her for a little time — it is very strange. 
What care has been taken to give her all he could give ; and 
nothing left to me for my own self, on account of my own 
self ! And how strange Uncle James looked when I said so ! 
I am sure he understands that I feel it and wonder at it. 

' How little I know of my mother, and I so like her, he 
says ! Perhaps I am old enough now for them to tell me 
more about her and that first marriage of hers, which I am 
sure must have been something dreadful. I will ask Uncle 
James some day when he is very well. Aunt Lucy has 
never told us anything but that she and mamma were great 
friends, and mamma was " a dear thing." Somehow I don't 
like to hear our dear dead mother spoken of as " a dear 
thing " — absurd, I dare say, but I do not ; and dear Aunt 
Eleanor never talked of her as anything but papa's wife — his 
idolized wife. 

' How well I remember when I first began to understand 
that he died of her loss in reality, though it took time to kill 
him, because he was good and patient and tried to be re- 
signed ! But he could not live longer without her, and God 
knew it and did not ask him. I remember so well when 
Aunt Eleanor told me that, and seemed to know it so well, 
that she could better bear to know that he was dead than to 
know that he was still wandering about, because there was 
no home for him here. I wonder was he very fond of us — 
or perhaps he was not able to be. I am sure he tried. Ah, 
well ! this we can never, never know until we are orphan 
children no longer ; and any doubt dishonours him. 

'To think that T am so important a personage, the 
owner of a great estate, the employer of so many of my 
fellow-creatures, — with so much power in my weak woman's 
hands for good or for evil, — and that I am all this solely 
because of great misfortune — solely because I am an orphan ! 
If they were living, there might indeed have been rejoicing 
here to-day, for our pleasure and our parents' pride ; but no 



32C 



A SIGHTED WRONG. 



more. It is wonderful to think of that,— wonderful to think 
of what might have been. Shall I be a good woman, I 
wonder ? Shall I be a faithful steward ? I don't know— I 
am so ignorant; but for Uncle James, I am so lonely. 
At least I will try— for my father's sake, and mamma's, 
and his, and for my own sake and for God's ; but oh, I wish, 
I wish I could have found in my father's will anything, 
however trifling, which he desired to come to me from him, 
for my own sake.' 

Tears were standing in the dark, clear gray eyes of the 
young lady of the Deane, and she had forgotten all about 
the birthday ball. 



CHAPTER XXVIII. 

THE ' BACCEOC DE XOCES.' 



The breakfast-table at the Deane was but scantily 
furnished with guests at noon on the day after the ball, and 
only among the younger portion of that restricted number 
did the spirit of ' talking it over ' prevail. The gentlemen, 
with the exception of George Ritherdon, discussed their 
breakfast and their newspapers, and the matrons were de- 
cidedly sleepy and a little cross. George was in high spirits. 
He had very thorough notions on the subject of enjoying a 
holiday, and he included among them the delight of escaping 
from the obligation of reading newspapers. 

'Look at your friend, Mr What's-his-name, of some 
queer place, like Sir Walter Scott's novels,' he whispered to 
Gertrude. ' The idea of coming on a brief visit to Paradise, 
and troubling your head about foreign politics and the 
money-market ! There he goes — Prussia, indeed ! What a 
combination of ideas— Bochum Dollfs and the Deane ! ' 

Gertrude laughed. The pleasant unaffected gaiety of 



THE 'eacckoc de noces.' 327 

his manner pleased her. She had not been prepared to find 
George Eitherdon so light of heart, so ready to he amused, 
and to acknowledge it. She knew that he was younger 
than his chum Eobert Meredith ; but she had fancied there 
would be some resemblance between them, when she should 
come to know them better, in a few days' close association 
with them. But there was no resemblance ; the friendship 
between them, the daily companionship had brought about 
no assimilation, and there was one circumstance which set 
Gerty thinking and puzzling to find out why it should be 
so. She had known Eobert Meredith for years; her ac- 
quaintance with George Eitherdon was of the slightest ; 
and yet, when the day after the ball came in its turn to a 
conclusion, and she once again set her mind to the task of 
' thinking it over,' she felt that she knew more of George 
Eitherdon, had seen more certain indications of his disposi- 
tion, and could divine more of his life, than she knew, had 
seen, or could divine in the case of Eobert Meredith. The 
girl was of a thoughtful speculative turn of mind, an ob- 
server of character, and imaginative. She pondered a good 
deal upon the subject, and constantly recurred to her first 
thought. ' How odd it is that I should feel as if I could 
tell at once how Mr Eitherdon would act in any given 
case, and I don't feel that in the least about Eobert Mere- 
dith!' 

' I was horribly ill-treated last night,' George said, after 
he and Gertrude had exchanged ideas on the subject of 
newspapers in vacation time. ' You ask me to a ball, Miss 
Baldwin, and then don't give me a dance. I call it treach- 
erous and inhospitable.' 

' 1 couldn't help it,' said Gerty earnestly, with perfect 
simplicity. ' I had to " dance down the set," as they say in 
the country dances — to begin at the beginning of the table 
of precedence, and go on to the end.' 

' A very unfair advantage for the fogeys,' said George 



328 A RIGHTED WRONG. 

Ritherdon, not without having made sure that none of Ger- 
trude's partners of last night were at the table. 

' The Honourable Dort would be grateful if he heard 
you, Ritherdon,' observed Meredith. 

' I suppose one couldn't reasonably 'call him a fogey,' re- 
turned George. 

Gertrude laughed ; but Eleanor said sharply, 

' No, be is only a fool.' 

Meredith was seated next her, and while the others went 
on talking, he said to her in a low tone, 

' Do you think him a fool ? I don't. He knows the 
value of first impressions, and being early in the field, or I 
am mucb mistaken.' 

If Robert Meredith had made a similar remark to Ger- 
trude, she would simply have looked at him with her grave 
gray eyes, in utter ignorance of bis meaning ; but Nelly 
understood him perfectly. 

' He is an admirer of Gerty's,' she said. 

' And a more ardent admirer of the Deane,' said Mere- 
dith. ' Do you like him ? ' 

'Not at all. Not that it matters whether I do or not; 
but Gerty does not either. I dare say Lord and Lady Gel- 
ston think it would be a very good thing.' 

' No doubt "they do. Nothing more suitable could be 
devised ; and as people of their class usually believe that 
human affairs are strictly regulated according to their con- 
venience, and look upon Providence as a kind of confidential 
and trustworthy agent, more or less adroit, but entirely in 
their interests, no doubt they have it all settled comfortably. 
There was the complacent ring of such a plan in that pomp- 
ous old donkey's bray last night, and a kind of protecting 
mother-in-law-like air about the old woman, which I should 
not have liked had I been in your sister's place.' 

Eleanor's cheek flushed ; the tone, even more than the 
words, told upon her. 



THE ' RACCKOC DE NOCES.' 329 

' What detestable impertinence ! ' she said. ' The idea of 
people who are held to be nobler than others making such 
calculations, and condescending to such meanness for money!' 

' Not in the least surprising ; as you will find when you 
know the world a little better. That the wind should be 
tempered to the shorn lambs of the aristocracy by the inter- 
vention of commoner people's money, they regard as a 
natural law ; and as they are the most irresponsible, they 
are the most shameless class in society. As to their con- 
descending to meanness for money, you don't reflect — as, 
indeed, how should you ? — that money is the object which 
best repays such condescension.' 

There was a dubious look in Nelly's face. The young 
girl was flattered and pleased that this handsome accom- 
plished man of the world — who was so much more her friend, 
in consequence of their association in London, than her 
sister's — should talk to her thus, giving her the benefit of 
his experience ; and yet there might be something to be said, 
if not for Mr Dort's parents, for Mr Dort himself. Her 
colour deepened, as she said timidly, 

' How well you must know the world, to be able to dis- 
cern people's motives and see through their schemes so 
readily ! But perhaps Mr Dort really cares for Gertrude.' 

' Perhaps he does. She is a nice girl ; and if her fortune 
and position don't spoil her, any man might well " care for 
her," as you call it, for herself. But the disinterestedness of 
Mr Dort is not affected, to my mind, by the fact that the 
appendage to the fortune he is hunting does not happen to 
be disagreeable. Supposing she had not the fortune, or 
supposing she lost it, would Mr Dort care for — that is, marry 
— your sister then ? ' 

'I don't suppose he would,' .said Eleanor thoughtfully. 

' And I am sure he would not,' said Meredith. Then, as 
there was a general rising and dispersion of the company, 
he added in a whisper, and with a glance beneath which the 



880 A SIGHTED WRONG. 

girl's eyes fell, ' The privilege of being loved for herself is 
the proudest any woman can boast, and cannot be included 
in an entail.' 

' Mr M'llwaine wants to see you for half-an-hour, Ger- 
trude, before he returns to Glasgow,' said Haldane Carteret 
to his niece as she was leaving the breakfast-room, accom- 
panied by Nelly and two young ladies who formed part of 
the ' staying company ' at the Deane. 

' Does he ? ' said Gertrude. ' What for ? It won't 
take me half-an-hour to bid him good-bye.' 

'Business, my dear, business,' said her uncle. 'You are 
a woman of business now, you know, and must attend to it.' 

' I wonder how often I have had notice of that fact,' said 
Gerty. ' I will go to Mr M'llwaine now, uncle ; but you 
must come too, please. — And, Nelly, will you take all the 
people to the croquet-ground ? I will come as soon as I 
can.' 

Gertrude went away with her uncle, and Nelly led the 
wa}' to an ante-room, in which garden-hats and other articles 
of casual equipment were to be found. 

' It is to be hoped Captain Carteret will not keep on re- 
minding Miss Baldwin of her duties and dignities,' whispered 
Meredith to Eleanor, as the party assembled on the terrace. 
' It will be embarrassing if he does, though she carries it 
off well, with her pretty air of unconsciousness.' 

Eleanor said nothing in answer, but her face darkened, 
and the first sentence she spoke afterwards had a harsh tone 
in it. 

The day was very fine, the summer heat was tempered by 
a cool breeze, and the glare of the sun was softened by flit- 
ting fleecy clouds. The group collected on the beautifully- 
kept croquet-ground of the Deane was as pretty and as pic- 
turesque as any which was to be seen under the summer sky 
that day. Mrs Haldane Carteret, who was by no means ' a 



THB ' UAC'CIiOO DE NOCES/ 331 

frisky matron,' but who enjoyed unbroken animal spirits and 
much better health than she could have been induced to 
acknowledge, was particularly fond of croquet, which, as her 
feet and ankles were irreproachable, was not to be wondered 
at. She was an indefatigable, a perfectly good-humoured 
player, and owed not a little of her popularity in the neigh- 
bourhood to her ever-ready willingness to get up croquet- 
parties at home, or to go out to them. 

Haldane too was not a bad or a reluctant player ; and, 
on the whole, the Deane held a creditable place in the long 
list of country houses much devoted to this popular science. 

Miss Congreve and her sister ' perfectly doated on' cro- 
quet, and all the young men were enthusiasts in the art, ex- 
cept George Eitherdon, who played too badly to like it, and 
had never gotten over the painful remembrance of having 
once caused a young lady, whose face was fairer than her 
temper, to weep tears of spite and wrathfulness by his blun- 
ders in a ' match.' 

' How long is this going to last ? ' George asked Mere- 
dith, when the game was fairly inaugurated, and the anima- 
tion of the party proved how much to their taste their pro- 
ceedings were. 

Meredith did not answer until he had watched with nar- 
row and critical interest the stroke which Nelly was then 
about to make. When the ball had rolled through the hoop, 
and it was somebody else's turn, he said, 

' Until such time as, having breakfasted at twelve with 
the prospect of dining at seven, we can contrive to fancy 
that we want something to eat, I suppose.' 

' Well, then, as I don't play, and cannot flatter myself I 
shall be missed, I shall go in, write some letters, and have a 
stroll. Tou will tell Miss Baldwin I don't play croquet, if 
she should do me the honour to remark my absence ? ' 

' Certainly,' said Meredith ; and as George turned away, 
he said to Eleanor, 



■odz A EIGHTED WRONG. 

' I will tell your sister, if she likes, that George does not 
play croquet or any other game.' 

She looked up inquiringly. 

' No,' he said ; ' he is the most thoroughly honest — in- 
deed, I might say the only thoroughly honest — man, who 
has not any brains, of my acquaintance. 'He won't lay siege 
to the heiress, and have no eyes for anybody else, no matter 
how superior ; and yet a little or a good deal of money would 
be as valuable to George as to most men, I believe.' 

' I thought Mr Batherdon seemed very much taken with 
Gertrude,' said Nelly, who had ceased for the moment to 
perform the mystic evolutions of the noble game, in a con- 
fidential tone, into which she had unconsciously dropped 
when speaking to Meredith. 

' No doubt, so he is ; but if she imagines he is going to 
be an easy conquest — to propose and be rejected — she will 
be mistaken.' 

A little while ago, and who would have dared to speak in 
such a tone of her sister to Eleanor Baldwin ? "Whom would 
she have believed, who should have told her that she could 
have heard unmoved insinuations almost amounting to ac- 
cusations of that sister's vanity, pride, and coquetry ? The 
sweet poison of flattery was taking effect, the deadly plant 
of jealousy was taking ready root. 

' I suppose,' she said, ' every man who comes to the 
house will be set down as a pretendant of Gertrude's — that 
is to be expected. If any man of our acquaintance has real 
self-respect, he will keep away.' 

' Indeed ! ' said Meredith. ' Would you make no ex- 
ceptions to so harsh a rule ? — not in favour of those to 
whom Miss Baldwin would be nothing, except your sister? ' 

' Nelly, Nelly, what are you about ? You are moon- 
struck, I think ! ' exclaimed Mrs Haldane Carteret, whose 
superabundant alertness could not brook an interval in the 
game ; and Eleanor was absolved by this direct appeal from 



THE ' KACCEOC DE NOCES.' 333 

any necessity to take notice of the words spoken by, Meredith. 

No immediate opportunity of again addressing Eleanor 
arose, so Meredith divided his attentions, in claiming her 
due share of which Mrs Carteret was very exacting, among 
the party in general, which was shortly reinforced by the 
arrival of a number of visitors from the ' contagious coun- 
tries,' and, conspicuous among them, Mr Dort. This hon- 
ourable young gentleman, though all his parents and friends 
could possibly desire, in point of fashion, was perhaps a 
little less than people in general might have desired in point 
of brains. Indeed, he possessed as little of that important 
ingredient in the composition of humanity as was at all con- 
sistent with his keeping up his animal life and keeping him- 
self out of an idiot asylum. 

In appearance he was rather prepossessing ; for he had 
a well-bred not-too-pretty face, ' nice ' hair (and a capital 
valet, who rarely received his wages), a tolerably good figure, 
and better taste in dress than is usually combined with 
fatuity. He never talked much, which was a good thing 
for himself and his friends. He had a dim kind of notion 
that he did not get at his ideas, or at any rate did not put 
them in words, with quite so much facility as other people 
did, and so, actuated by a feeble gleam of common sense, he 
remained tolerably silent in general. As he naturally enjoyed 
the aristocratic privilege of not being required to exert him- 
self for anybody's good or convenience, he experienced no 
sort of awkwardness or misgiving when, on making a call, 
after the ordinary greeting of civilized life (with all the r's- 
eliminated, and all the words jumbled together), he remained 
perfectly silent, in contemplation of the chimneypiece, except 
when a dog was present, then he pulled its ears, until the 
conclusion of his visit. He was very harmless, except to 
tradespeople, and not unamiable — rather cheerful and happy 
indeed than otherwise, though his habitual expression was- 
one of vapid discontent. He would have made it sar- 



334 A RIGHTED WRONG. 

donic if he could, but he couldn't; he had too little nose 
and not enough moustache for that, and his strong-minded 
mamma had advised him to give it up. 

' I know your Cousin Adolphus does it,' Lady Gelston 
said indulgently ; ' but just consider his natural advantages. 
Don't do it, Matthew ; you can't sneer with an upper lip 
like yours ; and, besides, why should you sneer ? ' 

' There's something in that, ma'am, certainly,' returned 
her admiring son, with his usual deliberation. ' I really 
don't see why I should ; because, you see, I ain't clever 
enough for people to expect it : ' which was the cleverest 
thing the Honourable Matthew bad ever said, up to that 
period of his existence. 

The young ladies in the neighbourhood rather liked Mr 
Dort. He was a good deal in Scotland, chiefly because he 
found an alarming scarcity of ready money was apt to set in, 
after he had made a comparatively short sojourn in London, 
and each time this happened he would remark to his friends, 
in the tone and with the manner of a discoverer, 

'And there are things one must have money for, don't 
you know ? one can't tick for everything — cabs, and waiters, 
and so on, don't you know ? ' 

This unhappy perversity of circumstances brought the 
Honourable Matthew home to his ancestral castle earlier, 
and caused him to remain there longer, than was customary 
with the territorial magnates ; and Lord and Lady Gelston 
were, also for sound pecuniary reasons, all-the-year-rounders, 
and very good neighbours with every family entitled to that 
distinction. The young ladies, then, liked Mr Dort. He 
was useful, agreeable, and ' safe.' Now this peculiar-sound- 
ing qualification was one which, however puzzling to the un- 
initiated, was thoroughly understood in the neighbourhood, 
and its general acceptation made things very pleasant. 

The young ladies might like Mr Dort, and Mr Dort 
might and did like the young ladies, without any risk of un- 



THE ' KACCEOC DE NOCES/ 335 

due expectations being excited, or female jealousies and 
rivalries being aroused. Every one knew that Mr Dort's 
parents intended their son to marry an heiress, and that Mr 
Dort himself was quite of their opinion. When the appoint- 
ed time and the selected heiress should come, the young 
ladies were prepared to give up Mr Dort with cheerfulness. 
Perhaps they hoped the chosen heiress might be ugly, and 
certainly they hoped she would ' behave properly to the 
neighbourhood,' but there their single-minded cogitations 
stopped. A good deal of the feudal spirit lingered about the 
Gelston precincts, and if the son of the Lord and the Lady, 
the heir of the undeniably grand, if rather out-at-elbows, 
castle, had been a monk, or a married man, he could hardly 
have been more secure from a design on the part of any 
young lady to convert herself into the Honourable Mrs 
Dort. 

The pleasantest unanimity of feeling prevailed in the 
community respecting him, and all the married ladies de- 
clared they ' quite felt for dear Lady Gelston,' in her natural 
anxiety to ' have her son settled.' Her son was not par- 
ticularly anxious about it himself, but then it was not his 
way to be particularly anxious about anything but the ' sit ' 
of his garments, and the punctuality of his meals, and this 
indifference was normal. Local heiresses were not plentiful 
in the vicinity of Gelston, but Lady Gelston did not trust 
to the home supply. She had long ago enlisted the sym- 
pathies and the services of such of her friends as enjoyed 
favourable opportunities for ' knowing about that sort of 
thing,' and who either had no sons, or such as were happily 
disposed of. She was a practically-minded woman, and fully 
alive to the advantage of securing as many resources as 
possible. 

Lady Gelston would have been perfectly capable of the 
insolence of considering her son's success in the case of the 
local heiresses— far excellence, Miss Baldwin — perfectly in- 



386 A EIGHTED WRONG. 

dubitable, but of the folly she was not capable. He would 
have a very good chance, she felt convinced, and she was 
determined he should try it as soon as it would be decently 
possible for him to do so. 

' Matt is not the only young man of rank she will meet, 
even here,' said the lady, when she condescended to explain 
her views to her acquiescent lord. 

Who, be it observed, was quite as well convinced of the 
advantages of the alliance, and quite as anxious it should 
take place, as his wife ; but who preferred repose to action, 
gave her ladyship credit for practical ability and a contrary 
taste, and entertained a general idea that scheming in all its 
departments had better be left to a woman. 

' Matt's chance will be before she goes to London,' con- 
tinued her ladyship ; ' and I really think it is a good one. 
She likes him, and that goes a great way with a girl ' — said 
as if she were gently compassionating a weakness — ' and I 
think the Carterets are sensible people, likely to see their 
own advantage in her marrying into a family who are on good 
terms with them, and can make it worth their while to be- 
have nicely. Then there's the advantage to her of the con- 
nection. Our son, my dear, living here, is a better match 
for her than Lord Anybody's son, living elsewhere, and un- 
connected with her people. Eeally, nothing could be more 
— more providential, I really consider it, for her.' And Lady 
Gelston nodded approvingly, as if the power alluded to had 
been present, and could have appreciated the polite encour- 
agement. 

' Well, my dear, you seem to have taken everything into 
consideration, and I have no doubt you are right. I hope 
they will see it in the same light.' 

' I hope so ; but if they don't — and that's why I am 
anxious Matt should not lose time ' — Lady Gelston had a trick 
of parenthesis—' I shall see about that Treherne girl— Mrs 
Peile's niece, you know. Lady John Tarbett sent me a 



THE f RACCKOC DE NOCES. 5 337 

very satisfactory account of her the other day. And, 
by-the-by, that reminds me I must go and answer her 
letter.' 

Had Lady Gelston been conscious that all her acquaint- 
ances were thoroughly aware of the projects which she cher- 
ished in reference to Gertrude Baldwin, she would not have 
been in the least annoyed. The matter presented itself to 
her mind in a practical common-sense aspect, much as his 
designs with regard to the ' middle-aged lady ' presented 
themselves to the mind of Mr Peter Magnus. ' Husband 
on one side, wife on the other ; ' fortune on one side, rank 
on the other ; mutual accommodation, excellent arrange- 
ment for all parties — a little condescending on the part of 
the Honourable Matthew perhaps, but then the girl was 
really very rich, and that was all about it.. Any one ordin- 
arily clear-sighted, and with any knowledge of the world 
at all, must recognize the advantages to all parties. If the 
Carterets and Miss Baldwin were insensible to them — well, 
it would be provoking, but there were other heiresses, and 
certain conditions of heiress-ship were tolerably frequent, in 
which an Honourable Matthew would be a greater prize 
than to Miss Meriton Baldwin of the Deane. 

"When Mr Dort made his appearance on the Beane cro- 
quet-ground, there was not an individual present who did 
not know that he was there with a definite purpose, and in 
obedience to the orders of Lady Gelston, and they all 
watched his proceedings with curiosity. The fates were not 
propitious to the Honourable Matthew, who had been pre- 
paring, on his way, certain pretty speeches, which he flat- 
tered himself would be efFective, and would help towards 
'getting it over,' which was his periphrastic manner of 
alluding, in his self-communings, to the proposal appointed 
to be made to Miss Baldwin. Gertrude was not present, 
and everybody was intent upon croquet. 

' Where is your sister ? ' he asked Eleanor, after they 
22 



338 A RIGHTED WEONG. 

had exchanged good-morrows, and agreed that the ball of 
the previous night had been a successful festivity. 

The droll directness of the question was too much for 
Nelly ; she laughed outright. 

' I really cannot tell you,' she replied ; ' she ought to 
have been here long ago; but no doubt she will come 
now.' 

' I hope so,' said Mr Dort with fervent seriousness. ' I 
should think she would soon come.' 

And then he retired modestly to a garden-seat and softly 
repeated the phrases, which he began to find it desperately 
difficult to retain in his memory. 

Robert Meredith had adhered with some tenacity to the 
croquet-party, and had been a witness to this little scene. 
The amusement, just a little dashed with pique, which Elea- 
nor displayed did not escape him. 

He is an original, certainly,' said Meredith, ' which, for 
the sake of humanity, it is to be hoped will not be exten- 
sively copied. I fancy he will propose to-day.' 

' Very likely,' said Nelly ; ' every one knows he, or his 
mother, has intended it for a long time. In fact, Grerty 
rather wants to have it over, as Mr Dort is not a bad crea- 
ture, and the sooner he understands that, though she has 
no notion of marrying him, he may come here all the same, 
the pleasanter it will be for all parties.' 

' Of course she lias no notion of marrying him ? ' 

' Mr Meredith, you are insulting ! Gerty marry Matt 
Dort — an idiot like that ! ' 

' An idiot with an old title and a castle to match, in not 
distant perspective, combination of county influence, &c. 
-&c. &c.,' said Meredith, smiling; 'not so very improbable, 
after all.' 

' So Lady Gelston thinks,' replied Nelly; 'and won't it 
be a sell — the slang is delightfully expressive — when she 
finds it is not he.' 



THE 'kacceoc de noces.' 339 

' And wouldn't it be a sell for her ladyship if it were ? ' 
thought Meredith. 

' I suppose it will, indeed,' was his reply. ' Though all 
this is very amusing, I fancy I should consider it very 
humiliating if I were a woman. I cannot see anything en- 
viable in a position which exposes one to such barefaced 
speculation.' 

' Nonsense ! ' returned Eleanor, with a forced smile ; 
' depend on it, if you were a woman, you would like very 
well to be in Gertrude's position, and have every one mak- 
ing much of you.' 

As she spoke she threw down her mallet, and declared 
herself tired of croquet. 

' Here is Gertrude' at last,' said Mrs Haldane Carteret, 
and all the party looked in the direction of the house. 
There was Gertrude, coming along the terrace, and with her 
George Bitherdon, supporting on his arm Mr Dugdale. 

' Let us go and meet them,' said Eleanor, ' and tell Gerty 
to put the Honourable Matthew out of pain as soon as 
possible.' 

' He is to be here this evening, I suppose,' said Mere- 
dith, as they moved off the croquet-ground. 

' Yes,' answered Eleanor ; ' Lady Gelston carefully pro- 
vided for that last night — not that it was necessary, for he 
would have invited himself, and come under any circum- 
stances.' 

"When Eleanor and Meredith joined Miss Baldwin and 
her escort, George Bitherdon said to his friend : 

' I will ask you to take my place. I find the post-hour 
here is horribly early, and I must really let my mother know 
where I am.' 

' "What on earth have you been doing ? ' said Meredith, 
as he offered his arm to Mr Dugdale. ' Tou went away 
two hours ago to write letters, you said.' 

' I think we are' to blame,' said Gerty. ' Mr Bitherdon 



340 A RIGHTED "WRONG. 

found us in the morning-room — found Uncle James and me, 
I mean — and we got talking, as Miss Congreve says, and — ' 

'And I had an opportunity of finding out how much 
Ritherdon is to be liked,' interposed Mr Dugdale, George 
being now out of hearing. ' I congratulate you on your 
companion, Robert.' 

Meredith replied cordially, and the party advanced to- 
wards the lawn. The two girls preceded Mr Dugdale and 
Meredith, and as the sound of their voices reached the latter, 
he correctly divined that they were amusing themselves at 
the expense of Mr Dort. On the approach of Miss Bald- 
win, the Honourable Matthew promptly abandoned the 
garden bench, from which no blandishments had previously 
availed to entice him, and repeated the phrases which had 
occasioned him so much trouble, with very suspicious glib- 
'ness, to the undisguised amusement of the two girls. Mr 
Dort was not in the least abashed. He had no sense of 
humour and not a particle of bashfulness, and, if he had 
reasoned on the subject at all, would have imputed their 
hilarity to the natural propensity of women to giggle, rather 
than have entertained any suspicion tbat he had made 
himself ridiculous. But he never reasoned, and he was 
always perfectly comfortable. 

The afternoon passed merrily away, and a pleasant din- 
ner-party succeeded. George Ritherdon had become quite 
a popular person before the promised dance — not at all 
splendid, in comparison with the ball of the preceding even- 
ing — began, and he confided to Meredith his surprise at 
finding himself ' getting on so well,' he who was such a bad 
hand at 'society business.' 

Gertrude gave him several dances that evening, — Miss 
Congreve thought rather too many, — and she gave Mr Dort 
one, and a tolerably prolonged audience in the ante-room, 
after which it was generally observed that the expression of 
discontent habitual to his features was more marked than 



THE ' EACCEOC DE NOCES.' 341 

usual. He left the Deane long before the party broke up, 
and found his lady mother still up, and ready to receive his 
report of proceedings. 

' "Well, Matt, how have you got on ? ' was her ladyship's 
terse question. 

' I haven't got on at all,' replied the Honourable Mat- 
thew. ' She said " No " almost before I'd asked her, and 
was so infernally pleasant about it, that, hang it ! I couldn't 
get up anything like the proper thing under the circum- 
stances, — you know, mother, — the " may not time — can you 
not give me a hope ?" business:' 

'Excessively provoking,' said Lady Gelston, turning 
very red in the face, and speaking in a tone which was the 
peculiar aversion of her son : ' she is a stupid perverse girl, 
and I'm certain you mismanaged the affair.' 

' No, I didn't,' said the Honourable Matt ; ' there ain't 
much management about it, that I can see. I said, " Will 
you marry me ? " — that's flat, I think, — and she said, " Cer- 
tainly not ;" that's flat, I think ; — a perfect flounder, in my 
opinion.' 

' Well, well, it can't be helped,' said Lady Gelston, with 
a glance at her son which might have meant that she had 
arrived at a comprehension of what a fool he really was. 
' There, go away, and let me get to bed. It's too bad ; but 
there's no help for it. We must only try elsewhere,' she 
continued, as if speaking to herself. 

' Stop a bit, mother,' interposed the Honourable Matt, 
without the least impatience or any change of expression, ' I 
want to consult you about something. Don't you think 
what I particularly want is ready money — money that isn't 
tied up, I mean — not the entail business, don't you know, 
but the other thing ? ' 

'I think you want money in any way and in any quan- 
tity in which it can be had,' returned Lady Gelston impa- 
tiently. ' How can you ask such foolish questions ? ' 



342 A RIGHTED WKONG. 

' I'm not. I heard all about Nelly Baldwin's money to- 
night. Captain Carteret was talking about it to old Largs, 
and he's so deaf that the Captain had to roar all the par- 
ticulars ; and I'll tell you what, mother, — by Jove, I'll go 
in for Nelly.' 

Bobert Meredith and George Eitherdon were to remain 
a week at the Deane. The three days which succeeded 
their arrival were passed in the ordinary pleasurable pursuits 
of a luxurious and hospitable country-house, and were un- 
marked by any events which made themselves at all con- 
spicuous. Nevertheless they were days with a meaning, an 
epoch with a history, and their course included two inci- 
dents. The sisters had a quarrel, which they kept strictly 
to themselves ; and George Eitherdon received a long letter, 
which he read with profound amazement, which he promptly 
destroyed, and concerning whose contents he said not a word 
to any one. 



CHAPTEE XXIX. 

THE EIHST MOTES IN THE GAME. 

Some time passed away, after the memorable fete which 
had celebrated the majority of Miss Meriton Baldwin of the 
Deane, during which, to an uninitiated observer, the aspect of 
affairs in that splendid and well-regulated mansion remained 
unchanged. County festivities took place ; and the import- 
ance of the young ladies at the Deane was not a better 
established fact than their popularity. 

"With the comic seriousness which distinguished him, 
the Honourable Matthew Dort had ' gone in for Nelly.' 
He visited at the Deane with tranquil regularity, he played 
croquet imperturbably ; only that he now watched Eleanor's 
balls, and was as confident she would ' croquet ' everybody 



THE FIRST MOVES IN THE GAME. o-i'3 

as he had formerly been free from doubt about Gertrude's 
prowess ; he rehearsed his speeches, and uttered them with 
entire self-possession. In due time he proposed to Eleanor, 
in the exact terms in which he had already done Gertrude 
that honour ; and he was refused by her quite as definitively, 
but less politely than he had been refused by her sister. 
On this occasion also he went home to his mother, and re- 
lated to her his defeat with a happy absence of embarrass- 
ment. 

Lady Gelston was very angry. She really did not know 
what the world — and especially the young women who were 
in it — was coming to ; she wondered who the Baldwin girls 
expected to get. But of one thing she was convinced — 
Matthew must have made a fool of himself somehow, or he 
could not have failed in both instances. The accused Mat- 
thew did not defend himself. Very likely he had made a fool 
of himself, but it could not be helped. Neither Gertrude 
nor Eleanor would marry him, and it was quite clear he could 
not make either of them do so. His mother had much better 
not worry herself about them ; and when the shooting was 
over, or he was tired of it, he would ' look-up that girl of 
Lady Jane Tarbert's.' 

With this prospect, and with the intention of snubbing 
the Baldwins, Lady Gelston was forced to be content. But 
the snubbing, though her ladyship was an adept in the 
practice, did not succeed. The Baldwins declined to per- 
ceive that they were snubbed, and the neighbourhood de- 
clined to follow Lady Gelston's lead in this particular. The 
Leane was the most popular house in the country, and the 
Baldwins were the happiest and most enviable people. 

This fair surface was but a deceitful seeming ; at least, 
so far as the sisters were concerned. An estrangement, 
which had had its commencement on Gertrude's birthday, 
and had since increased by insensible degrees, had grown up 
between them ; an estrangement which not all their efforts 



344 



A RIGHTED WRONG. 



— made in the case of Eleanor from pride, in that of Ger- 
trude from wounded feeling— could hide from the notice of 
their uncle and aunt, from James Dugdale and Rose Doran ; 
an estrangement which made each eagerly court external 
associations, and find relief, in the frequent presence of 
others, from the constant sense of their changed relation. 
James Dugdale saw this change with keen sorrow ; but when 
he attempted to investigate it, he was met by Gertrude with 
an earnest assurance that she was entirely ignorant of its 
origin, and an equally earnest entreaty that he would not 
speak to Eleanor about it. It would be useless, Gertrude 
said, and she must put her faith in time and her sister's truer 
interpretation of her. 

Appeal to Eleanor was met with fiat denial, and an angry 
refusal to submit to interference, which in itself betrayed 
the evil root of all this dissension. Gertrude was supreme, 
the angry sister said ; she was nothing. Gertrude of course 
could not err ; all the good things of this world were for 
Gertrude, including the absolute subservience of her sister. 
But she might not, indeed she should not, find it quite so- 
easy to command that. A good deal of harm was done by 
Mrs Carteret, not intentionally, but yet after her character- 
istic fashion. She much preferred Eleanor to Gerbrude, and 
she made herself a partisan of the former, by pitying her, 
because she only could know how little she was really to 
blame. Haldane treated the matter very lightly. He re- 
garded it as a girlish squabble, which would resolve itself 
into nothing in a very short time, and at the worst would 
be dissipated by a stronger feeling. So soon as a lover 
should appear on the scene, their good-humoured uncle be- 
lieved it would be all right, — provided indeed they did not 
happen to fall in love with the same man, and quarrel de- 
sperately about him. 

Eose Doran regarded the state of things with anger and 
horror. 



THE FIKST MOVES IN THE GAME. 3 15 

' It's just the devil's work, sir,' she said to Mr Dugdale . 
'puttin' jealousy and bitterness between them two, father- 
less and motherless as the}-- are, and no one to show them 
the only kind of love in which there's no room for more or 
less. It's just the devil's work, and he's doing it bravely ; 
aud Miss Nelly's to his hand, for that jealousy was always 
in her ; not but there's somebody behindhand, I'm sure of 
it, puttin' coals on the fire.' 

Bose was at first disposed to suspect Mrs Carteret of 
this supererogatory work, but she did not continue to sus- 
pect her. She knew the girls so thoroughly, she was in no 
doubt respecting the amount of influence their aunt could 
exert over them, and in Nelly's case she was aware this was 
much less than in that of Gertrude. Besides, Mrs Doran's 
practical wisdom controlled her feminine suspicion ; she 
could not discern an adequate motive, and she therefore ex- 
onerated Aunt Lucy. But she was no less convinced that, 
in this unhappy matter, Eleanor was not left alone to the 
unassisted promptings of her disposition, in which Bose had 
early perceived the terrible taint of jealousy. And her acute 
observation guided her aright before long ; it guided her to 
an individual whom she had instinctively distrusted in his 
boyhood — to Kobert Meredith. 

Though she had hardly seen him for many years past, 
and though, in her position in the household at the Deane, 
she had not come into any contact with him of late, Bose 
Doran had never got over the dislike of Eobert Meredith 
which she had conceived at the terrible time of her beloved 
mistress's death. On that occasion James Dugdale had 
obeyed Margaret's instructions so faithfully and promptly, 
that Bose Moore had reached the Deane in time to kneel 
beside her unclosed coffin, and whisper, on her cold lips, the 
promise on which she had instinctively relied, — the promise 
that her children should be henceforth Bose's sacred charge 
and care. Among the mourners at the funeral of Mrs 



346 A RIGHTED WRONG. 

Baldwin were Hayes Meredith and his son; the former 
entirely absorbed in grief for the event, and in thoughts of 
the future, as his secret knowledge forced him to contem- 
plate it ; the latter, with ample leisure of mind to look about 
him, to observe and admire, and with the pleasant conviction 
that every one was too much occupied to take any notice of 
him. He conducted himself with propriety at the funeral, 
and afterwards, while he was in sight of the family ; and he 
was far from supposing that Bose Moore was watching his 
looks and his manner, on other occasions, with mingled dis- 
gust and curiosity, and that she said to herself, ' The Lord 
be good to us ! but I believe, upon my soul and faith, tlie 
hoy is glad she's taken.' 

Hose had never deliberately recalled this impression 
during all the years which had witnessed her faithful fulfil- 
ment of her vow, but she had never lost it ; and the con- 
viction which now came to her, during Bobert Meredith's 
stay at the Deane, and which gained strength with every 
day which ensued on his departure, had its origin in it. 
Had it needed confirmation, it would have obtained it from 
the utter and peremptory rejection of her good offices, on 
Nelly's part, and the burst of angry disdain with which the 
infatuated girl met her suggestion, that Mr Meredith was 
no friend of Gertrude's. Eleanor Baldwin had travelled no 
small distance on the thorny road of evil, when she rewarded 
Bose's suggestion with a haughty request, which fired Bose's 
Irish blood, but with a flame quickly quenched in healing 
waters of love and pity, — that she would in future remember, 
and keep, her place. 

' It's because I never forget my place, the place your 
mother put me in, Miss Nelly, that I warn you,' said her 
faithful friend. 

Then Eleanor felt ashamed of herself; but pride and 
anger and deadly jealousy carried the day over the whole- 
some sentiment, and she turned away hastily, leaving Bose 
without a word. 



THE FIRST MOVES IN THE GAME. 347 

In much more than its external meaning was that festival 
time of deep importance to Gertrude and Eleanor Mcriton 
Baldwin. It was fraught with the fate of both. While 
Eobert Meredith and his friend remained at the Deane, the 
relation of the sisters 'was unchanged in appearance. It 
seemed as if their mysterious quarrel had had no lasting 
effect. The after estrangement was, however, its legitimate 
fruit, as well as the consequence of the pernicious ideas 
which Eobert Meredith had set himself assiduously to culti- 
vate in the mind of Nelly. An explanation of the state of 
mind of Eobert Meredith, at the termination of his visit to 
the Deane, will sufficiently elucidate the quarrel of the sisters, 
and its distressing results. 

Eobert Meredith had arrived at the Deane full of one 
purpose, which had been vaguely present to his mind for 
some years, but to which certain circumstances had of late 
lent consistency, fixedness, and urgency. This purpose was 
to make himself acceptable in the eyes of Miss Baldwin. 
He had hitherto troubled himself but little about the young 
lady. When she should have reached her majority, his time 
should have come. It had arrived ; and not Mr M'llwaine 
himself — who had gone to the Deane, accompanied by the 
huge mass of papers to which Haldane Carteret had found 
it difficult to induce his niece to give reasonable attention — ■ 
had proceeded thither with a more strictly business-like 
purpose in view than that which actuated the handsome 
barrister. Eobert would have despised himself as sincerely, 
and almost as much, as he was in the habit of despising his 
neighbours, if he had been capable of permitting sentiment 
to influence him in so grave an affair as that of securing his 
fortune for life, — which was precisely his purpose ; and he 
had formed his plans totally irrespective of Gertrude's at- 
tractions, or their possible influence upon himself. He had 
two schemes in his mind, both, in his belief, equally practic- 
able ; and he determined to be guided by circumstances as 
to which of the two he should adopt. If the second should 



848 A RIGHTED WRONG. 

present itself as the more advisable, an indispensable pre- 
liminary to the secure playing of the long game it would 
involve was the alienation of the sisters. It could do no 
harm, in any case, to make an immediate move in that direc- 
tion ; and therefore Robert Meredith made it. 

When Eleanor Baldwin made her escape from the ball- 
room on that memorable night, leaving her sister to the 
cares which her superior importance devolved upon her, 
Robert Meredith's eager words of admiration, and still more 
expressive looks, had filled the girl's heart — already danger- 
ously trembling towards him — with a strange tumultuous 
joy, contending with the jealous bitterness he had contrived 
to implant in it. But when he and George Ritherdon bade 
one another good-night at the door of George's room, after 
a brief commentary upon the beauty of the morming, he had 
enough that was ever in his thoughts to keep him from 
sleep. The comparative advantages of the first of his plans 
over the second had immensely increased in his estimation. 

The beauty, the simplicity, the tender pathetic grace of 
Gertrude, had struck with a strange attractive freshness 
upon his palled sense, and he had awakened, with a delicious 
consciousness, to the conviction that he might combine the 
utmost gratification of two passions by the successful prose- 
cution of his scheme. To make that delicate, refined, lovely 
girl love him as passionately, as foolishly, as the dark beauty, 
her sister, would love him, if it suited his purpose to en- 
courage the dawning feeling he had seen in her eyes, and 
felt in every movement and word of hers during the even- 
ing, would indeed be triumph, adding a delicious flavour to 
the wealth and station which should be his. He understood 
now what the charm was which Gertrude's mother, whom 
he had hated, had had for men — the charm of a pure and 
refined intellectuality, with underlying possibilities of in- 
tense and exalted feeling, — these were to be divined in the 
depths of the clear gray, unabashed eyes, and in the sensitive 



THE FIRST MOTES IN THE GAME. 349 

curves of a mouth aa delicate as her mother's, but less 
ascetic. 

Had be made a favourable impression on Gertrude ? 
Had sbe learned from her sister's report to regard him with 
favour, and had he confirmed that report ? He did not feel 
comfortably certain on this point. Gertrude had not given 
him any indication beyond the additional attention which he 
claimed as Mr Dugdale's particular friend. But Eoberfc 
Meredith did not trouble himself much on this point ; he 
had time before him, and he knew perfectly well how to use 
it. But it was characteristic of the man that, though he 
dwelt, to his last waking moment, upon Gertrude's beauty 
and charm, he thought, just as he fell' asleep, ' If she thwarts 
me, it will all add zest to the revenge which Miss Eleanor's 
eyes tell me is secure in any case.' 

The story of the remainder of Eobert Meredith's visit 
may be briefly told. Gertrude did thwart him. Not inten- 
tionally ; for she, being the most candid of girls, was wholly 
incapable of understanding his double-dealing policy. She 
frankly regarded him as her sister's admirer, and she unre- 
servedly regretted that he should be so. She did not like 
Eobert Meredith ; between him and her there was an abso- 
lute absence of sympathy, and she shrank with an inexplic- 
able repugnance and fear from his looks — covert and yet 
bold — and from the admiration which he insinuated, the 
understanding which he attempted to imply, whenever he 
could take or contrive an opportunity of doing so, unobserved 
and unheard by Eleanor. She avoided him whenever it was 
possible, and she never remained alone with him. 

Eobert Meredith was a vain man — but vanity was not 
his ruling passion, one or two others had precedence of it — 
therefore he did not fail to see, or hesitate to confess to 
himself, that Gertrude had thwarted him, that there would 
not be room, in the accomplishment of his scheme, for the 
delicious gratification of two passions at once, and that ho 



350 A SIGHTED WRONG. 

would do well to fall back upon the second game, for playing 
which, he had the cards in his hand. It was not without in- 
tense mortification he made this avowal to himself. He was 
a man to whom failure was indeed bitter ; but he speedily- 
found consolation in musing upon the perfection of a certain 
revenge which he meditated. 

' If she would marry me, in ignorance,' he said to him- 
self, ' I should be the Deane's master and hers ; but, if she 
would not marry me under any circumstances, to escape any 
penalty — and I begin to think that is certain now — I have 
her in my power, and all, all, all will be mine.' 

These reflections, made by Eobert Meredith during the 
week which was to conclude his stay at the Deane, led him 
to take a certain resolution, whose execution was fraught 
with immediate results to the sisters. 

A small but very animated dancing-party had taken place 
at the Deane ; and Eobert had closely studied the demean- 
our of G-ertrude and Eleanor to him and to each other. 
The estrangement of the sisters had not then become mani- 
fest ; but he detected and exulted in it. On Gertrude's 
part there was a nervous anxiety to put Eleanor forward, to 
consult her, to defer to her in everything; on Eleanor's there 
was an affectation of indifference, an assumption of deference, 
a giving of herself the appearance of being a guest, which was 
in extremely bad taste, but thoroughly delightful to Eobert 
Meredith. If a servant asked Eleanor a question, she point- 
edly referred him to her sister; she professed an entire 
ignorance of Miss Baldwin's plans for the evening; she 
divided herself from her in innumerable little expressive ways, 
which Gertrude noted with a sick heart and a manner which 
betrayed painful nervousness ; and she abandoned herself to 
the influence of the flattery and the insidious suggestions of 
the tempter to a degree which j ustified him in believing that 
he might be entirely sure of her, whether the pursuit of his 
purpose should lead him to break her heart by marrying her 
sister, or crown her hopes by marrying herself. 



THE FIRST MOVES IN THE GAME. 351 

It was Gertrude's custom to resort to the library every 
morning after breakfast, and there to occupy herself with 
her drawing, at a table beside a large window which opened 
on the lawn. She was usually undistm-bed, as Mr Dugdale 
remained in his own rooms all the morning, her uncle fre- 
quented the stable and farmyard, Eleanor devoted the niorn- 
inf hours to music, and Mrs Carteret had no attraction to- 
wards the library. George Eitherdon had sometimes found 
his way thither ; and Gertrude had, on those occasions, 
found it not unpleasant to lay aside her pencil, and discuss 
with her guest some of the contents of her amply-stored 
bookshelves. But George was engaged in writing letters 
on the morningwhich followed the before-mentioned dancing- 
party ; and Eobert Meredith found Miss Baldwin, as he 
expected, alone. Gertrude tried hard to receive him in the 
most ordinary way, but her embarrassment was distressingly 
apparent ; and he coolly showed her that he perceived it. 
After a few words — she could hardly have told what words 
— she collected her drawing-materials, and said something 
confusedly about being waited for by Mrs Carteret, as she 
rose to leave the room. But Eobert Meredith, with a bold 
fixed look, which, in spite of herself, she saw and felt in 
every nerve, detained her ; and gravely informing her that 
he had purposely selected that opportunity of finding her 
alone, in order to make a communication of importance to 
her, requested her to listen to him. His manner was not 
loverlike, it was even, under all the formality of his address, 
slightly contemptuous ; but she knew instantly what it 
wa°s she had to listen to, and a prayer arose in her heart by 
a sudden inexplicable impulse. She resumed her seat, and 
leaning her arm on the table which divided her from 
Eobert Mereditb, she shaded her eyes with her hand, and 
prepared to listen to him. 

It was as her instinctive dread had told her. In set 
phrase, and with his bold covetous eyes fixed upon her, 
Meredith told her his errand,— told her he loved her, and 



352 A RIGHTED WEONG. 

asked her to marry him — made mention too of her wealth, 
and the risk he ran of being misinterpreted by the world, of 
having base motives imparted to him — a risk more than 
counterbalanced by his love, and his faith in his ability to 
make her understand and believe that she was sought by 
him for herself alone. 

Robert Meredith spoke well, and with fire and energy ; 
but, as Gertrude listened to him, her distress and embarrass- 
ment subsided, and she removed the sheltering hand from 
her eyes. When he urgently entreated her to reply, she 
said very gently : 

' I should feel more pain, Mr Meredith, in telling you 
that I cannot return the preference with which you honour 
me, if I did not feel so convinced that your love for me is 
only imaginary. Had it been real, you would not have 
remembered my wealth, or cared about the opinion of the 
world.' 

This answer staggered the man to whom it was addressed 
more than any indignation could have done. He burst 
out into renewed protestations ; but Gertrude, with grave 
dignity, begged him to desist, and again asserting that as 
her guardian's friend he should ever be esteemed hers, as- 
sured him it was useless to pursue his suit. Then she rose, 
and moved towards the door. 

' Is this a final answer, Miss Baldwin ? ' asked Meredith. 

' Quite final, Mr Meredith.' 

' Stay a moment. May I hope you will not add to the 
mortification of this refusal the injury of making it known 
to Mr Dugdale or Mrs Carteret, indeed to any one ? I con- 
fess I could hardly endure the ridicule or the compassion 
which must attend a rejected suitor of the heiress of the 
Deane.' 

There was a devil's sneer in his voice and on his face ; 
but G-erty took no heed of it, as she replied, with quiet 
dignity, 



THE FIRST MOVES IN THE GAME. 353 

' "We have a code of honour also, we women, Mr Mere- 
dith ; and you may be quite sure I shall never so far offend 
against it as to mention this matter to any one.'' Then she 
added, with a sweet smile, in which her perfect incredulity 
regarding his professions was fully though unconsciously ex- 
pressed : 

' I will leave you now ; and I hope you will forget all 
this as soon and as completely as I shall.' 

Eobert Meredith followed her with his eyes as she left 
the room, and passing along the terrace, went down into her 
flower-garden, and lingered there, utterly oblivious of him; 
and a deadly feeling of hatred, such hatred as springs most 
profusely from baffled passion, arose in his heart, and blos- 
somed into sudden strength and purpose. 

' Yes,' he muttered ; ^you have taken up the thread of 
your mother's story, and you shall spin it out to some purpose. 
A little while, and Eleanor will be of age; and then, my fine 
heiress of the Deane, then we shall see who has won to-day. 
A little while, and if I can only keep Oakley quiet till then, 
I am safe. Safe ! more than safe,' — triumphant, victorious ! ' 

It was on the next day that Nelly, intoxicated by the 
artful flatteries of Eobert Meredith, and tortured by the 
jealousy which he had fostered, taunted her sister with the 
powerlessness of money to purchase love. The taunt fell 
harmlessly on Gertrude's pure and upright heart ; but it 
startled her, uttered by her sister. How had Nelly come by 
such knowledge, and why did she apply it to her? She 
hastily asked her why ; and to her astonishment was 
answered, that in one treasure at least Nelly was richer than 
she was — the treasure of a brave and true man's love ! The 
reply shook Gertrude like a reed. There was indeed one 
man who answered to this description ; there was one man to 
win whose love would be the most blissful lot which Heaven 
could bestow. There was one man, who never, by word or 
deed or look, had implied to Gertrude Baldwin that such a 

23 



354 A RIGHTED WRONG. 

lot might be hers — had her sister won him ? "Well indeed 
might she exult, if she were so supremely blest, and hold not 
Gertrude only, but all womankind her inferiors. Pale and 
breathless, she awaited the complete elucidation to be ex- 
pected from Eleanor's taunting wrath, and it came. It came, 
not as her fearful shrinking heart had foreboden, but in the 
avowal that Eleanor spoke of Robert Meredith. 

"With the passing away of the great pang of terror that 
had clutched at her heart, Gertrude was again calm and 
clear-sighted; but she was deeply grieved. She felt how 
unworthy was the man her sister loved, how baseless her 
belief that she possessed his affections. She was far from 
being able to comprehend such a nature as that of Bobert 
Meredith ; but she had a vague consciousness that, in his 
binding her to secrecy respecting his proposal to her, there 
had been a treacherous intent ; and though she would not 
break her promise, she appealed to her sister on grounds 
and terms which a little more knowledge of human nature 
would have taught her must be in vain. Then came the 
inevitable result, a bitter and lasting quarrel, and an inera- 
dicable belief on Eleanor's part that Gertrude's refusal to 
credit Meredith's love for her sister arose from the most 
despicable motives — pride, envy, and jealousy. Where was 
the sisterly love, where was the unbroken confidence of years, 
now ? Blasted by the fierce breath of passion, poisoned by 
the insidious art of the tempter. 

So a treacherous appearance of calm and happiness ex- 
isted at the Deane during the months which succeeded the 
departure of the friends, and none but those concerned were 
aware of two circumstances which had entirely changed the 
lives of the bright and beautiful sisters. One was the fact 
that Eleanor Baldwin was secretly betrothed to Robert 
Meredith, with the understanding that on her coming of age 
she would marry him, with or without the consent of her 
relatives. The other was that the plodding industrious 



DRIFTING. 



barrister George Kitberdon, who carried back to his chambers 
in the Temple more than one unaccustomed sensation, had 
taken with him, unconsciously, the unasked heart of the 
young mistress of the Deane. 



CHAPTEE XXX. 

DRIFTING. 



With the commencement of the season, Major and Mrs 
Carteret and their nieces followed the multitude to London. 
This proceeding was but little in accordance with the wishes 
of Gertrude Baldwin, who loved her home and her de- 
pendents, the pleasant routine of her country duties and 
recreations ; but she could not oppose herself to the general 
opinion that it was the right thing to do, in which even Mr 
Dugdale, her great support and ally, agreed with the others. 
In her capacity of woman of fashion, Mrs Carteret was 
quite shocked that Gertrude should have passed her twenty- 
first year without coming out in proper style in London ; 
but in that of chaperone, or, as she called it, maternal friend 
to a great heiress, she had recognized the wisdom and pro- 
priety of permitting her to attain to years of discretion before 
she should be formally delivered over to the wiles of the 
fortune-hunters and the perils of the ' great world.' Not 
but that there were fortune-hunters in Scotland, witness the 
Honourable Matthew Dort ; but Gertrude was not likely to 
be bewildered by their devices in the sober atmosphere of 
her home. 

Miss Baldwin's mind had not changed on the subject of 
the superiority of her Scottish home to anything which a 
London residence could offer, and which would certainly 
wear an air of triumph for her, however false that air might 
be. Gertrude was by no means worldly wise. She had 



356 A RIGHTED WEONG. 

none of the cynical foresight leading her to see in every one 
who approached her a covetous idolater of her wealth. She 
would have regarded herself with horror if she had lost her 
faith in love or friendship ; and indeed she had been so ac- 
customed to the presence of wealth all her life, that she did 
not understand its effects on others, and had no mental 
standard by which to estimate its value, either material or 
moral. It was not, therefore, from any unwomanly disdain 
of the motives of those whom she was to sojourn amongst 
in London that Gertrude took the prospect coolly, showing 
none of the excitement and exultation to whicli Eleanor 
gave unrestrained expression, and which made her amiable 
to Gertrude to an extent unparalleled for many months past. 
The truth was that there was a secret in Gertrude's heart, 
a preoccupation of Gertrude's mind, to which everything 
beside, so far as she was individually concerned, had to yield. 
This pervading sentiment did not render her selfish, she was 
as ready with her sympathies for others as ever, but it did 
make her absent and indifferent. 

Robert Meredith and his friend had passed a fortnight 
at Christmas at the Deane, and there the plans of the family 
for the coming season had been discussed. Gertrude had 
learned with surprise and discomfiture that her living in 
London, where he lived, would not imply her seeing very 
much of George Bitherdon. She fancied he had been at 
some pains to make her understand this, and the conscious- 
ness rendered her uneasy. Why had he dwelt upon the 
busy nature of his life, the diversity between his occupations 
and hers ? Why had he drawn a merry sketch for her of 
the wide difference between the society, such as it was, in 
which alone he had a footing, and the gilded saloons which 
were to throw their doors open for her ? He had not offended 
her by cynicism, which was as far from his happy and loyal 
nature as from hers ; but he had made her thoughtful and 
uncomfortable by an insistence upon this point, which she 



DRIFTING. 357 

could but refer to a wish to make her "understand that she 
must not expect him to contribute to the anticipated plea- 
sures of her sojourn in London. And with this conviction 
vanished all such anticipations from Gertrude's fancy. 

That was an enchanted fortnight. The hours had flown, 
and a beautiful new world had opened itself to the girl's 
perception. She had been too happy to be afraid of Eobert 
Meredith, or ungracious to him. She had utterly forgotten 
the rule of action she had laid down for herself, in con- 
sideration of her sister's perverse jealousy and alienation. 
She had determined to treat Meredith with cold politeness, 
to show him and Eleanor that she imputed to his sinister 
influence the state of things which occasioned her so much 
pain. But she forgot the pain ; she was happy, and the 
sunshine of her content spread all around her. 

liobert Meredith had a difficult game to play at this 
time, but he played it with skill and success. It is not a 
light test of skill when an elderly coquette is persuaded by 
a ci-devant admirer to abandon the conquering for the con- 
fidential role, and tbis was precisely the test which Eobert 
Meredith applied to his savoir faire. The secret betrothal 
between himself and Eleanor placed them on so secure a 
footing, that he was able, without annoying Eleanor, not. 
withstanding her exacting disposition, to devote much of his 
time to Mrs Carteret, towards whom his tone modified itself 
from the slightly vulgar, somewhat obtrusive gallantry which 
had been wont to characterize it, to the very perfection of 
deferential observance and highly-prized intimacy. He had 
appealed to some of Eleanor's best feelings in order to 
induce her to consent to the secrecy of their engagement — 
to her disinclination to produce family discord, to her duty 
of avoiding the rendering of her aunt's position as between 
her and Gertrude difficult, and to her noble confidence in 
his judgment and fidelity, which it should be his loftiest 
aim in life to justify and reward. 



dOO A RIGHTED WRONG. 

He had not; only poisoned Eleanor's mind against her 
sister, but he had succeeded in undermining the grateful 
affection which the misguided girl bad once entertained for 
Mr Dugdale. He had made her remark the preference 
which, in many small ways, the old man showed for Ger- 
trude — a preference of whose origin and justification Eleanor 
had no knowledge to enable her to understand it aright — 
and assured her that in him too, in deference to that uni- 
versal baseness which dictated subservience to her sister's 
wealth, Eleanor would find a bitter opponent to her love, a 
ruthless adversary of her happiness. His wicked counsels 
prevailed. Something romantic in the girl's disposition re- 
sponded to the idea of a persecuted passion ; and the demon 
of jealousy, now thoroughly awakened in her, wrought un- 
restrained all the mischief her human evil genius desired. 
Meredith counselled Eleanor to soften her manner towards 
Gertrude, for the better security of their secret against the 
danger of her awakened suspicions ; and she obeyed him. 
He forbade her to tell Mrs Carteret all the truth, lest it 
might hereafter compromise her with her husband and Mr 
Dugdale, but told her to cultivate her good graces in every 
way, so that in the time to come her aid might be sure ; 
and she obeyed him. The result of all this was much more 
peace for Gertrude ; and as Meredith kept himself out of 
her way, devoting himself to Mrs Carteret and Eleanor, and 
leaving George Eitherdon to her society, it had the addi- 
tional effect of increasing and consolidating her attachment 
to George. 

Major Carteret was habitually unobservant ; his wife 
confined her attention to Eobert Meredith, of whose wishes 
she was the delighted confidante, and Eleanor, whom she 
did not at present suspect of more than an incipient inclin- 
ation towards Eobert. Mr Dugdale — whose health had 
declined considerably since the autumn, did not leave his 
rooms, and saw the different members, of the family singly 
— was totally unconscious of the drama being played out so 



DRIFTING. 359 

near him. Things were better between the sisters, and he 
rejoiced at that. The favourable impression which George 
Bitherdon had made upon him on his first visit to the 
Deane was deepened during his second, and he greatly en- 
joyed his society. Gertrude passed many happy hours, 
working or drawing, beside her old friend's sofa, while the 
two men talked with mutual pleasure and sympathy. When 
that happy fortnight ended and the friends had returned to 
London, Gertrude found her greatest consolation in Mr 
Dugdale's frequent allusions to George, and in the eulo- 
giums which he pronounced on his mind and his manners, 
the latter being a point on which the old gentleman was 
difficult and fastidious. 

During and since, that time, Gertrude, who was singularly 
free from vanity and quite incapable of pretence, had fre- 
quently asked herself whether she had not given her heart to 
one who did not love her. Even if it had been so to her 
indisputable knowledge, she would not have striven to with- 
draw the gift. She loved him, once and for ever, and she 
would sanctify that love in her heart, if he were never to be 
more to her than the truest and most valued of friends. She 
was utterly sincere and candid in this resolution ; she had 
no foreknowledge of the difficulty, the impossibility of main- 
taining, it. She was content, ay, even happy, in her un- 
certainty, which was sometimes hope, but never despair. 
Such a possibility as that George should love her and refrain 
from telling her so, because of her wealth, literally never 
occurred to her, any more than that, if he loved her, and 
told her so, the most unscrupulous calumniator in the world 
could accuse him of caring for that wealth, of even re- 
membering it. It had no place in her thoughts at all. She 
lived her dream-life happily ; sometimes her dreams were 
brighter, sometimes more sombre ; but their glitter did not 
come from her gold, their shadow was not cast by cynical 
doubt, by worldly-wise suspicion. 

"When the time came for their journey to London, 



360 A RIGHTED WRONG. 

G-ertrude was more sad than elated. Her best friend, the 
one on whom she leaned with the trusting reliance of a 
daughter, from whom she had ever experienced the fond in 
dulgence of a parent, was to remain at the Deane. Mr 
Dugdale's health rendered it impossible for him to accompany 
the family, and Mrs Carteret and Eleanor did not regret his 
absence. Their feelings were in accord on every point con- 
nected with the expedition. Eleanor foresaw no impediment 
to her frequent enjoyment of Robert Meredith's society, 
under the auspices of Mrs Carteret, who, on her part, had 
great satisfaction in the prospect of partaking in the gaieties 
of a London season, for which she still retained an unpalled 
taste, and maintaining a splendid establishment at the ex- 
pense of her niece. 

More than half the interval which had to elapse between 
Gertrude's attainment of her majority and Eleanor's reaching 
a similar period had now elapsed, and Robert Meredith's 
successful prosecution of his schemes with respect to the 
Baldwins was unchequered by any reverse. In other re- 
spects things were not progressing quite so favourably with 
him. He had been negligent in his professional business of 
late, since his mind had been full of the mysterious game he 
was playing, and the inevitable, inexorable result of this 
negligence was making itself felt. George Bitherdon, on 
the contrary, was getting on rapidly for a barrister, and was 
beginning to be talked about as a man with a name and a 
standing. The relations between the two had insensibly 
relaxed, as was only natural, considering that the strongest 
tie between them, their common industry, their common 
ambition, had so considerably slackened. Nothing ap- 
proaching to a quarrel had taken place ; but they were tired 
of one another, and each was aware of the fact. The senti- 
ment dated from their second visit to the Deane, whence 
each had returned preoccupied with his own thoughts, his 
own preferences, and profoundly conscious that no sympathy 
existed between them. 



DRIFTING. 361 

Little had been said between the two relative to the 
Baldwins' sojourn in London ; and when George Bitherdon, 
made aware of their arrival by the Iloruinrj Post, asked his 
friend when he intended to present himself at their house 
in Portman-square, he was disagreeably surprised by the 
cold brevity of Meredith's reply that he had been there 
already, had indeed seen the ladies on the very day of their 
arrival, and was going to dine with them the same evening. 

George made no remark upon this communication, and 
left a card for Major Carteret on the following day. An 
invitation to dinner followed, and on his mentioning the 
circumstance to Meredith, George was surprised and offend- 
ed by his manner. He laughed unpleasantly, and said 
something about the futility of George's expecting to be 
received on the same footing as he had been in the country, 
which made him decidedly angry. 

' I don't understand you, Meredith,' he said. ' Tou 
brought me to the Deane, I owe the acquaintance entirely 
to you, and now you talk as if you resented it.' 

'Nonsense, old fellow,' returned Eobert with good 
humour, which cost him an effort ; ' I only discourage your 
going to the Baldwins, because I do not want to hear you 
talked of as an unsuccessful competitor for the heiress's 
money-bags, and because I know, if you have any leaning 
in that direction, it will be quite useless. The young ladies 
fly at higher game than you or I.' 

A deep flush overspread George Eitherdon's face as he 
replied : 

' I beg you will not include me, in your own mind, in 
the category of fortune-hunters ; as for what other people 
think or say, you need not trouble yourself.' 

' As you please. I only warn you that Gertrude Bald- 
win is an interested coquette, determined to make the most 
of her money, — to buy rank with it, at all events, but by no 
means averse to numbering her thousands of victims in the 
mean time.' 



362 A RIGHTED WEONG. 

' Tou speak harshly of this girl, JMeredith, and cruelly.' 

' I speak candidly, because I am speaking to you. You 
don't suppose I would put another fellow on his guard. I 
might have got bit myself, you know, if I had not understood 
her in time. However, we had better not talk about it. 
Forewarned, forearmed, they say, though I can't say I ever 
knew any good come of warning any one.' 

Thereupon Meredith pretended to be very busy with his 
papers, and the subject dropped. But it left a very unpleas- 
ant impression on George's mind. 'An interested coquette ! ' 
~No more revolting description could be given of any woman 
within the category of those whom an r {honest man could 
ever think of marrying. Had George Bitherdon thought 
of marrying Gertrude ? No. Did he love her ? He knew 
in his heart he did ; but he did not question for a moment 
his power of keeping the fact hidden from the object of his 
love, and every other person. He would have regarded the 
declaration of his feelings to an inexperienced girl, who had 
had no opportunity of choice, of seeing the world, of forming 
her judgment of character, to whom the language of love 
was utterly unknown, on the eve of her entrance upon 
a scene on which she ought to enter perfectly untrammel- 
led, as in the highest degree dishonourable. He would 
have held this opinion concerning any woman whose wealth 
should have made her position so exceptionally difficult as 
that of Gertude ; but in her particular instance he had an 
additional motive for his strict self-conquest and reticence, 
which, if it ever could be explained, must remain concealed 
for the present. 

George Bitherdon had no coxcombry or conceit about 
him, and he had not made up his mind by any means that 
Gertrude loved him, or was likely to be brought to love him 
in the future, should he find that the ordeal to which she 
was about to be exposed had left her still fancy-free, and 
his own circumstances be such as to enable him to believe 



DRIFTING. 363 

he might try for the great prize of her heart and hand with- 
out dishonour. He did not deceive himself as to the ob- 
stacles and the rivals he might have to encounter ; he gave 
all the fascinations of the new sphere in which Gertrude was 
about to shine their full credit and importance, and he con- 
tented himself with this conclusion : 

' If, when she has had full experience, ample time, when 
she knows her position and her own mind perfectly, I can 
be sure that she prefers me to all the world beside, I will 
win her, and marry her, without bestowing a thought on 
her fortune, or caring a straw for any one's interpretation 
of my motives, caring only for hers.' 

Steadily acting upon the plan he had laid down for him- 
self, George Bitherdon frequented Gertrude's society not 
often enough to make his visits a subject of comment, not 
sufficiently seldom to induce her to think him indifferent or 
estranged. She and Eleanor were going through the ordin- 
ary routine of the life of London in the season; he rarely 
participated in its more tumultuous and irrational pleasures. 
But he kept a tolerably strict watch upon Gertrude for all 
that ; and he had no reason to believe, at the end of the 
second month of her stay in London, that any one of the 
numerous admirers with whom rumour and his own observa- 
tion had accredited her, had found the slightest favour with 
the young lady of the Deane. 

Before the end of that second month, Bobert Meredith 
and George Bitherdon had parted company. The former 
could perhaps have given a plain and conclusive reason for 
his desire that so it should be ; but, in the case of the latter, 
the actuating motive was more vague. George felt that 
they did not get on together. The Baldwins were hardly 
ever mentioned between them, though each knew the terms 
on which the other stood with the family, and they not un- 
frequently met at the house in Portman-square. The dis- 
solution of the old arrangement, once so pleasant to them 



364 A RIGHTED WRONG. 

both, was plainly imminent to each before it actually oc- 
curred, and it might have come about after a disagreeable 
fashion but for a fortunate accident. The gentleman who 
had been George's university tutor, and with whom he had 
always maintained intimate relations, died, and bequeathed 
to George his numerous and valuable library. What was 
he to do with the books ? Their joint chambers would not 
accommodate them. George took a large set in another 
building, and the difficulty was solved, to their mutual relief, 
without a quarrel. 

The season was a brilliant one, and Gertrude and Elea- 
nor Baldwin had their full share of its glories and its plea- 
sures. They enjoyed it, after their different fashions, but 
Gertrude more than Eleanor. In the heart of each there 
was indeed a disquieting secret ; but in the one case there 
was no self-reproach, no misgiving, while in the other that 
voice would occasionally make itself heard. As time passed 
over, Gertrude felt more and more hopeful that George 
Eitherdon loved her, though for some reason which she 
could not penetrate, but to which it was not difficult for 
her docile nature to submit, he did not at present avow the 
sentiment. Her happiness was not lost, it was only de- 
ferred ; she would be patient, and then she could always 
comfort herself with the knowledge that her love for him — 
pure, lofty, with no element of torment in it — could never 
die, or be taken from her, while she lived. 

Eleanor's lot was by no means so favoured, and she 
proved more difficult to manage than Eobert Meredith had 
foreseen. She chafed under the restraint of her position, 
and suffered agonies of suspicion and jealousy. The evil 
passion which he had been quick to see and skilful to culti- 
vate, for his own purposes, was easily turned against him, a 
contingency which with all his astuteness he had failed to 
apprehend ; and Eleanor's daily increasing imperiousness 
and distrust made him tremble for the safety of his secret 
and the success of his plans. 



DRIFTING. 3G5 

Nothing made Eleanor so suspicious of the falsehood of 
Ins professions, nothing exasperated her so much, as Bobert 
Meredith's imperviousness to the feeling which had obtain- 
ed so fearful a dominion over her. If she could but have 
roused his jealousy, as she ceaselessly endeavoured to do, 
by such reckless flirtations as brought her into trouble with 
even her careless uncle, and furnished plentiful food for ill- 
natured tongues, she would have been more easy, less un- 
happy, more convinced. But Bobert would not be made 
jealous, and his easy tranquil assumption of confident power, 
not laid aside even during the stolen interviews in which he 
bewildered her with his passionate protestations and caresses, 
sometimes nearly drove her mad. An instinct, which it had 
been well for her if she had heeded, told her that this man 
was not true to her. But she loved him madly. He had 
changed her whole nature, it seemed to her, in the few sel- 
dom-recurring moments in which she saw clearly into the 
past, and strained fearful eyes into the future ; he had ruin- 
ed the peace and happiness of her home, he had estranged 
her from her sister, he had taught her lessons of scorn and 
suspicion towards all her kind. But she loved him, him 
only in all the world. 

Towards the close of the season, Haldane Carteret grew 
extremely impatient. He had been, he considered, quite an 
unreasonable time on duty, and he declared his intention of 
at once returning to the Deane. The men-servants would 
suffice for an escort for Mrs Carteret and her nieces ; or, if 
they did not like that arrangement, he was sure Meredith, 
who was coming down for the shooting at all events, would 
make it convenient to leave town a week or so sooner, and 
take care of them on the journey. K"o one had any objection 
to urge against this proposal ; and Major Carteret took 
himself off, hardly more to his own satisfaction than to that 
of his wife, who declared herself worn out by his ' crossness,' 
and disgusted with his selfishness. 

On the following evening Bobert Meredith had a guest 



366 A RIGHTED WRONG. 

at his chambers, who, to judge by the moody and impatient 
expressions of his host's countenance, was anything but 
welcome. Meredith had dined at Portman-square, where he 
had met George Bitherdon, to whom Miss Baldwin, with 
her simplest and yet most dignified air, had given, in her 
own and her uncle's name, an invitation to the Deane for 
the shooting season. This incident was highly displeasing 
to Meredith, who, distracted by an uneasy suspicion that his 
friend had found him out to a certain extent, desired nothing 
less than his presence during any part of the critical time 
which must elapse before he could make his coup. Bobert 
had returned to his chambers in a sullen and exasperated 
temper, which was intensified by the spectacle which met his 
view. An old man, shabby of aspect, and anything but 
venerable in appearance or bearing — an old man with bleared 
watery eyes, bushy gray eye-brows, and dirty gray hair — 
was seated in an arm-chair by the open window, smoking a 
churchwarden pipe and drinking hot brandy-and-water. 
The mingled odours of tobacco and spirits perfumed the 
room after a fashion which harmonized ill with the sweet 
autumnal air and the flowers which adorned the sitting-room, 
in accordance with one of the owner's most harmless tastes. 
' What, you here, Oakley ! ' said Meredith, in a tone 
which did not dissemble his disgust. ' What are you doing 
here ? What has brought you up from Cheltenham ? ' 

' Business,' replied the unvenerable visitor quietly, with- 
out rising or making any attempt at a salutation of his 
reluctant host. ' Business,' he repeated with an emphatic 
nod. 

' With me ? ' Meredith threw his hat and gloves upon 
a table, and sat down, sullenly facing his visitor. 

' With you. Look here, I'm tired of all this. Tou see, 
I am not so young as you are, and at my time of life I can't 
afford to play a waiting game. Tou can't, if you would, 
make it worth my while to do it ; and as the case actually 



DRIFTING. 367 

stands, you don't make it worth my while to play any game 
at all — of yours, I mean. Of course I should, in any case, 
play mine.' 

' I don't understand you,' said Meredith, making a strong 
effort to keep his temper and speak with indifference. ' I 
have kept the terms I made with you to the letter. "What 
do you mean by your game, as apart from mine ? ' 

' Just this. I have no interest whatever in your marry- 
ing this girl rather than in any other man's marrying her. 
It does not matter to me where my price comes from ; I'm 
sure of it from her husband, whoever he may be, and I don't 
believe you're sure that she will marry you. Tou have tried 
to keep me dark, and in the dark, cunningly enough ; but I 
have found out more about them than you think for, for all 
that ; and I know she has more than one string to her bow, 
and at least one of them more profitable to play upon than 
you are. If you can't persuade the girl to marry you befor e 
she's of age, and raise money for me upon her expectations, 
or if you can't in some way make things more comfortable, 
I shall try whether I cannot carry my information to a better 
market. Indeed, I am so tired of living respectably upon a 
pittance, paid with a dreary exactitude which is distressingly 
like Somerset House, I have been seriously contemplating 
an affecting visit to my relative Mrs Carteret, and a family 
arrangement to buy me off at once at a long price.' 

' And my knowledge of the affair ; what do you make of 
that, in your rascally calculation ? ' 

' Not quite so much as you make of it in your rascally 
calculation, my good friend ; for it is not knowledge at all, it 
is only guess-work ; and you have not an atom of proof with- 
out my evidence, which I am quite as willing to withhold 
as to give, for Mr Trapbois' omnipotent motive — a con- 
sideration.' 

For all answer, Robert Meredith rose, opened an iron 
safe let into the wall of the room, and hidden by a curtain 



368 A SIGHTED WEONG. 

■ — greedily followed the while by the old man's eyes, which 
watched for the gold he hoped he had extorted — and took 
out a red-leather pocket-book, with a clasp of brass wire- 
work. He came up to the old man's side, and opening a 
page of the memorandum-book, pointed to an entry upon it. 

' No evidence, I think you said. Not so fast, my faithful 
colleague. What is that ? ' 

' Initials, a date, — a guess, Meredith, a mere surmise, not 
an atom of proof.' 

' And this ? ' Robert Meredith took an oblong slip of 
paper out of a pocket in the book, and held it up to the old 
man's eyes. ' An attested copy of the marriage-register is 
evidence, I fancy.' 

' Yes,' said Mr Oakley reluctantly ; ' that's evidence of 
one part of the story, to be sure ; but not of the material 
part, the only part that's profitable to you. You can't do 
without me — you can't indeed ; but I can do very well with- 
out you. You will save time and trouble by acknowledging 
the fact, and acting on it.' 

' What the d — 1 do you want me to do ? ' said Meredith 
fiercely, as he threw the pocket-book back into the safe and 
locked the doors in a rage. ' I can't marry the girl till she 
is of age. I tell you I am perfectly sure of her. Do you 
think I am such a fool as to allow any doubt to exist on that 
point ? But I don't choose to change my plans, and I won't 
change them, let you threaten as you will. You old idiot ! 
you would ruin yourself by thwarting me. You don't know 
these people — I do; and you could as soon induce them to 
join you in robbing a church as to buy you off in the way 
you propose. You had much better stick to the bargain 
you've made, and have patience. I think if I can find 
patience, you may.' 

Mr Oakley reflected for some minutes, his bushy gray 
eyebrows meeting above his frowning eyes. At last he said : 

' Then I'll tell you what it is, Meredith. You shall give 



DEIFTING. 369 

me £20 extra now, to-night, and introduce me at once, to- 
morrow, to the family, and we'll go on playing on the square 
again.' 

' jN~o,' said Meredith ; ' it won't do. I can't give you 
£20 ; I can't spare the money. I'll give you £10, on con- 
dition you don't show yourself here until I send for you. 
And as to introducing you to the family just yet, it is out 
of the question. It would only embarrass our proceedings, 
and do you no good.' 

' What do you mean ? ' said Oakley furiously ' Why 
should you not introduce me to my own relative P I choose 
to partake of the advantages of her capital match. I intend 
to be Mrs Carteret's guest at the Deane this autumn, 
whether the prospect be agreeable to you or not.' 

Meredith smiled, a slow exasperating smile, carefully 
exaggerated into distinctness for the old man's dimmed 
vision, as he said : 

'/could have no objection to do my good friend Mrs 
Carteret the kindness of reuniting her with a long-severed 
member of her family, and to introduce you as a visitor at 
Portman-square, during the few days they will be in town, 
would not be any trouble to me ; but as for your being in- 
vited to the Deane, the idea is too absurd.' 

' And why ? ' 

' Because Miss Baldwin, and not your relative, is the 
mistress of that very eligible mansion ; because you are not 
the style of person Miss Baldwin admires ; and because, you 
may take my word for it, you will never set your foot within 
those doors while the Deane belongs to Miss Baldwin.' 

The old man's face turned a fiery red, and the angry 
colour showed itself under his thin gray hair. 

' While the Deane belongs to Miss Baldwin ! ' he repeat- 
ed low and slowly. ' Well, theu, there's no use talking 
about it. Hand over the £10, and I'll be off.' 

In a few minutes Bobert Meredith was alone, and as he 

24 



370 A RIGHTED WRONG. 

listened to - Mr Oakley's heavy tread upon the stairs, he 
muttered : 

' It's a useful study, that of the ruling passions of one's 
fellow-creatures. An expert finds it tolerably easy to work 
them to his advantage. Avarice and pride ! eh, Mr Oakley ? 
and pride the stronger of the two. Tou won't give me much 
more trouble. No danger of your being bribed to abstain 
from saying or doing anything that can harm Miss Baldwin.' 



CHAPTER XXXI. 

THE MINE IS SPRUNG. 



Time sped on, and no fresh obstacle opposed itself to 
Robert Meredith's designs. His venerable colleague gave 
him no farther trouble. He had calculated with accuracy 
on Gertrude's nobility and delicacy of mind preventing her 
seeking to prejudice his friends in the household at the 
Deane against him, leading her to keep her promise of secrecy 
in its most perfect spirit. Thus, he pursued his design 
against her undisturbed, under her own roof, and with all 
the appearance of a good understanding existing between 
them. 

Meredith was, however, mistaken in supposing that Ger- 
trude was ignorant of her sister's attachment to him. She 
was much too keen-sighted where her affections were con- 
cerned to be deceived as to the state of Eleanor's mind, even 
had it not painfully revealed itself in the altered relations 
between them. She knew her sister's infatuation well, and 
she deplored it bitterly. The sorrow it caused her was all 
the more keen, because it was the first of her life in which 
she had not had recourse to Mr Dugdale for advice, sympa- 
thy, and consolation. Now, she asked for none of these at 
his hands. She could not have claimed them without divulg- 



THE MINE IS SPRUNG. 371 

mg the secret she had pledged herself to keep, and grieving 
the old man by changing his regard for the son of his dead 
friend into distrust and dislike. So Gertrude suffered in 
silence ; and as she became more and more isolated— as she 
felt the sweet home ties relaxing daily — she clung all the 
more firmly to the hope, the conviction that George Either- 
don loved her ■ though for some reason, which she was con- 
tent to take on trust, to respect without understanding, he 
was resolved not to tell her so yet. 

George Eitherdon passed three weeks, that autumn, at 
the Deane ; but Meredith avoided him — making an excuse 
for selecting the period of his visit for fulfilling another en- 
gagement. During those three weeks the regard and esteem 
of old Mr Dugdale and George Eitherdon for each other so 
increased by intimacy, that Gertrude had the satisfaction of 
seeing them occupy the respective positions which she would 
most ardently have desired had her dearest hopes been 
realized. When George's visit had reached its conclusion, 
Mr Dugdale took leave of him as he might have done of a 
son, and the young man left his old friend's rooms deeply 
affected. Gertrude was not much seen by the family that 
day, and it was understood Mr Dugdale had requested 
her to pass the afternoon with him. 

' Why does he say nothin', when any one that wasn't as 
blind as a bat could see he dotes on the ground she walks 
on?' asked Mr Dugdale's faithful friend and confidante, 
Mrs Doran, when they compared notes in the evening, after 
Gertrude had pleaded fatigue and left them. 

' I don't know, indeed,' was Mr Dugdale's answer. ' I 
suppose he thinks she has not had a fair chance of choosing 
yet.' 

' Hasn't seen enough of grand young gentlemen just 
dyin' to put her money in their pockets, and spend it on 
other people, maybe ! ' said Mrs Doran ironically. ' Bad luck 
to it for money it's the curse of the world ; for you don't 



372 A RIGHTED WRONG. 

know which does the most harm — too little of it, or too 
much ! However, it's only waiting a bit, and they'll find 
each other out. Sure, he's a gentleman born and bred, and 
every inch of him, and made for her, if ever there was a 
match made in heaven.' 

So Gertrude's best friends were silently -waiting for the 
fulfilment of her hope. Mr Dugdale had asked George 
Eitherdon to write to him frequently, — a request to which 
the young man had gratefully acceded ; and his latest letter 
had informed Mr Dugdale that he found himself obliged to 
leave London, for an indefinite period and at much incon- 
venience, owing to his mother's illness. 

The time was now approaching when Eleanor should at- 
tain her majority, and Gertrude had resolved that the event 
should be celebrated with all the distinction which had at- 
tended her own. 

To Eleanor and to Mrs Carteret the birthday-fete had 
the surpassing attraction of a charming entertainment, 
rendered still more delightful by the presence of the lover' 
of the one and the particular friend of the other. To Ger- 
trude, though she strove to be bright and gay, and though 
she sought by every means in her power to evince her af- 
fection for the sister who turned away with steady coldness 
from all her advances, the occasion was a melancholy one. 
It furnished a sad contrast to the fete which had welcomed 
her own coming of age in every respect, — above all, in that 
one which had become most important to her : George was 
not present. 

Robert Meredith caused his manner to be remarked on 
this occasion by more than one of the guests at the Deane. 
To Miss Baldwin he was scrupulously but distantly polite ; 
with Mrs Carteret he assumed a tone of intimacy which she 
seconded to the full ; but to Eleanor he bore himself like an 
acknowledged and triumphant lover. Every one saw this, 
including Mr Dugdale, during his brief visit to the scene of 



THE MINE IS SPRUNG. 373 

the festivities, aud Haldane Carteret, not remarkable for 
quickness of observation. The fact made both these ob- 
servers uneasy, but they did not make any comment to one 
another upon their suspicions. 

The sisters, who had each been dancing nearly all night, 
did not meet on the conclusion of the ball. The old fami- 
liar habit of a long talk, in one of their respective dressing- 
rooms, after all the household had retired, had long been 
abandoned ; and when, on this occasion, Gertrude — resolved 
to make an effort to break through the barrier so silently 
but effectually reared between them — went to her sister's 
room, she found the door locked, and though she heard 
Eleanor moving about, no answer to her petition for ad- 
mittance was returned. Full of care and foreboding, 
Gertrude returned to her room, and it was broad day before 
she forgot her grief, and the presentiment of evil which 
accompanied it, in sleep. 

The ladies did not appear at breakfast the next morning, 
and the party consisted only of Major Carteret, Eobert 
Meredith, and two harmless individuals who were staying 
in the house, and in no way remarkable or important. On 
the conclusion of the meal Eobert Meredith requested 
Major Carteret to accord him an interview, which the latter 
agreed to do with some hesitation. They adjourned to the 
library, and there Meredith, with no circumlocution, and in 
a plain and business-like manner, informed 'Major Carteret 
that he had proposed to his niece Eleanor Baldwin, been 
accepted by her, and that she had requested him to commu- 
nicate the fact to Major Carteret. 

Eleanor's uncle received the intelligence with awkward- 
ness rather than with actual disapprobation, and acquitted 
himself not very well in replying. Something of unpleasantly- 
felt power in Meredith's tone jarred upon him as he used a 
perfectly discreet formula of words in making the announce- 
ment. Haldane Carteret did not dislike or distrust Meredith, 



374 A RIGHTED WRONG. 

and he was not an interested man. He had married for love 
himself, and he knew his niece had sufficient fortune to de- 
prive her conduct of imprudence, if she chose to do the same. 
It was not fair to take it for granted that Meredith was not 
attached to Eleanor, that he was actuated by interested 
motives ; and yet Haldane Carteret, an honest man, if not 
bright, felt that all was not straightforward and simple 
feeling in this matter. He said something about disparity 
of age ; then admitted that, in referring Meredith to him, 
his niece had merely treated him with dutiful courtesy, as 
his guardianship and authority had terminated ; and finally, 
on being pressed by Meredith, said he perceived no objec- 
tion, beyond the evident one that his niece might have 
looked for more decided worldly advantages in her marriage, 
and that he thought the proceeding had been somewhat 
too precipitate for the best interests of both. All this Hal- 
dane Carteret said, because his native honesty obliged him 
to say it ; but heartily wishing he could bring the inter- 
view to a close, or hand Meredith over to his wife, who would 
probably be delighted. 

Meredith received Major Carteret's remarks with calm 
politeness, but hardly thought it necessary to combat them. 
He could not see the disparity in age in any serious ligbt, 
and he ventured to assure his Eleanor's uncle he and she had 
understood one another for some time ; there was no real 
precipitation in the matter. As for the advantages which 
such a marriage secured to him, he was most ready to ac- 
knowledge them, and to admit their effect on the general 
estimate of his motives, but he did not mind that. Secure 
against an unkind interpretation by Eleanor and her relatives' 
he was indifferent to any other opinion. He flattered him- 
self Mrs Carteret would learn the news with satisfaction. 
This was ground on which Major Carteret could meet him 
with cordial assent ; and he got over his difficulties by re- 
ferring the happy lover to Mrs Carteret ; and having sum- 



THE MINE IS SPRUNG. 



375 



moned her to the library to receive Meredith's communica- 
tion from himself, he left them together. 

Mrs Carteret was expansively and enthusiastically de- 
lighted. She declared she felt herself quite a girl again in 
contemplating the happiness of her beloved niece and her 
old friend ; and it may be assumed that Eobert Meredith 
had evinced very nice tact and discretion in the method by 
which he conveyed the information to her. 

It was no small portion of the suffering which Gertrude 
Baldwin had to undergo at this time, that she heard the 
news of her sister's engagement — not from Eleanor herself, 
not in any kindly sisterly conference, but from Mrs Carteret, 
whose light gleeful manner of imparting the information to 
Gertrude was far from conveying any sense of its import- 
ance to the agitated girl ; and who filled up the measure of 
her congratulations to everybody concerned, by remarking 
that in ' poor dear Eleanor's invidious position, it was most 
desirable that she should marry early, and before Gerty had 
made her choice.' This speech chilled Gertrude into silence, 
and she left her aunt — having uttered only a few common- 
place words — with the well-founded conviction that Eleanor 
would believe her either envious, indifferent, or prejudiced 
against her and Meredith. Gertrude was quite alone in her 
distress of mind, as she purposely avoided Mr Dugdale — 
being unwilling to awaken a suspicion in his mind of its 
cause — and Mrs Doran, who she instinctively knew would 
penetrate and share her feelings. 

In the course of the day both those members of the 
family were made aware of Eleanor's engagement. Old Mr 
Dugdale took the intimation very calmly, as it was his wont 
to take all things now, since he had ceased to feel keenly 
save where Gertrude was concerned. Mrs Doran heard it, 
with a sad foreboding heart and a gloomy face. She had 
never liked, she had never trusted, Eobert Meredith ; and 
she could not forget that the man her dear dead mistress's 



376 A RIGHTED WEONG. 

daughter was about to marry was the same who, as a boy, 
had hated Margaret. 

Robert Meredith and Gertrude did not meet alone. 
They mutually and successfully avoided each other, and the 
elder sister was pointedly excluded by Eleanor and Mrs 
Carteret from all the discussions which ensued relative to 
the arrangements for the marriage, which was to take place 
soon. Gertrude heard that her aunt and her sister pro- 
posed to go to London, to purchase Eleanor's trousseau, to 
select Eleanor's house, without a word of comment. But 
when something was said about the marriage taking place 
in London, she interposed, and in her customary sweet and 
yet dignified way remonstrated. Eleanor, she said, ought 
to leave no house for a husband's, but her own. 

' Mine ! ' said Eleanor. ' I presume you mean yours — 
you are talking of the Deane.' 

' I am talking of our mutual home, Eleanor, where once 
no such evil thing as a divided interest ever had a place. — 
Uncle,' — here she turned to Major Carteret, and laid her 
hand impressively upon his arm, — ' speak for me in this. 
Tell Eleanor I am right, and that our parents — I, at least, 
have never felt their loss so bitterly before — would have 
had it so.' 

'I'm sure I don't know what to say,' replied Haldane 
Carteret forlornly. ' I can't conceive what has come be- 
tween you two girls ; but I must say I do think Gerty is 
in the right in this instance. — Lucy, my dear, the wedding 
must be at the Deane.' 

So that was settled ; and afterwards, until Eleanor and 
Mrs Carteret, accompanied by Eobert Meredith, went to 
London, things were better between the sisters. There 
was not, indeed, any renewal of the intimate affection, the 
unrestrained cordiality, of other times ; and Gertrude felt 
mournfully that a complete restoration could never be — the 
constant interposition of Meredith would render that im- 



THE MINE IS SPRUNG. 



377 



possible. "Under ordinary circumstances, the marriage of 
one by involving separation from the other must have 
loosened the old bonds ; but this marriage was indeed fatal. 
They were young girls, however, and the evil influence 
which had come between them had not yet completely done 
its work, had not spoiled all their common interest in the 
topics which fittingly engage the minds of young girls. 
Gertrude strove to forget her own wounded feelings, to 
conquer her apprehensions, and to disarm the jealous reti- 
cence of her sister by frank interest and generous zeal. 
She succeeded to some extent, and the interval between the 
declaration of the engagement and the departure of Mrs 
Carteret and Eleanor was the happiest time, so far as she 
was individually concerned, that Gertrude had known since 
the first painful consciousness of division had come between 
the sisters. 

Everything went on quietly on the surface of life at the 
Deane when Eleanor and her aunt had left home. Mr 
Dugdale was a little more feeble, perhaps ; his daily airing 
upon the terrace was shorter, his period of seclusion in his 
own rooms was lengthened ; but he was very cheerful, and 
seemed to desire Gertrude's presence more constantly than 
ever. 

The visit to London was as prosperous as its purpose 
was pleasant. Mrs Carteret's letters were quite exultant. 
Never had she enjoyed herself more, she flattered herself 
Eleanor's trousseau was unimpeachable, and Robert Meredith 
was the most devoted of lovers and the most delightful of 
men. She had had an agreeable surprise, too, since she had 
been in London. She fancied she had chanced to mention 
to Gertrude that a distant relative of hers, whom she had 
only seen as a very young child — a Mr Oakley — had gone 
out to Australia, and, it had happened oddly enough, had 
there known Kobert Meredith's father and their beloved 
Margaret's first husband ; indeed, he had known Gertrude's 



378 A EIGHTED WEONG. 

dear mother herself. This gentleman — a fine venerable old 
man, ' quite a Rembrandt's head, indeed,' Mrs Carteret 
added — was now in London, having made an honourable in- 
dependence ; and he naturally wished to find friends and a 
little social intercourse among such of his relatives as were 
still living. Mr Meredith had brought him to see her, and 
the dear old gentleman had been much gratified and deeply 
affected by the meeting. Mrs Carteret went on to say that, 
knowing dear Gertrude's invariable kindness and wish to 
please everybody, and also taking into consideration her 
characteristic respect for old age combined with virtue and 
respectability, — so remarkably displayed in the case of their 
dear MrDugdale, — she had ventured to/promise Mr Oakley 
a welcome to the Deane, on behalf of Miss Baldwin, on the 
approaching auspicious occasion. 

To this letter Gertrude replied promptly, expressing her 
pleasure at having it in her power to gratify Mrs Carteret, 
and enclosing a cordially-worded invitation to the Deane to 
the venerable old gentleman with the Eembrandt head ; who 
received it with a chuckle, and a muttered commendation of 
the long-sightedness which had made Robert Meredith defer 
his introduction to Miss Baldwin until the present truly 
convenient season. 

On her side, Gertrude was making preparations on a 
splendid scale for the celebration of her sister's marriage in 
her ancestral home. Nothing that affection and generosity 
could suggest was neglected by the young heiress, whose 
own tastes Avere of the simplest order, to gratify those of 
Eleanor. She lavished gifts upon her with an unsparing 
hand, and, indeed, valued her wealth chiefly because it en- 
abled her to obey the dictates of a most generous nature. 

Mrs Carteret and Eleanor returned to the Deane, at- 
tended by Mr Oakley. Robert Meredith was to follow the 
day before that fixed for the wedding. The old gentleman 
did not impress Gertrude particularly as being venerable, as 



THE MINE IS SPRUNG. 379 

distinguished from old, in either person or manner ; and she 
quickly perceived that Mrs Carteret was aware and ashamed 
of his underbred presuming manners. This perception, how- 
ever, was only another motive to induce Gertrude to treat 
him with the utmost courtesy and consideration. She must 
shield her aunt from any unpleasantness which might arise 
in consequence of her relative's evident unfitness for the 
society into which she had brought him. At all events, it 
would only be putting up with him for a short time, and he 
certainly could do no harm. So Gertrude was perseveringly 
kind and gentle to Mr Oakley, and actually so far impressed 
the old gentleman favourably, that he believed Robert 
Meredith to have lied in imputing disdainful pride to her, 
and almost regretted the part he had undertaken to play. 
There was no help for it now, however ; he might as well 
profit by the transaction, which it was altogether too late to 
avert. Thus did the faint scruples called into existence in 
Mr Oakley's breast, by the uuassuming and graceful good- 
ness of the girl he had undertaken to injure, fall flat before 
the strength of interested rascality. 

The wedding of Eleanor Meriton Baldwin presented a 
striking contrast to that of her mother, which had excited 
so much contemptuous comment among the ' neighbours ' in 
the old, old times at Chayleigh. People of rank, wealth, 
and fashion assembled in gorgeous attire to beheld the 
ceremonial, which was rendered as stately and imposing as 
possible. The dress of the bride was magnificent, and her 
beauty was the theme of every tongue. The bridegroom was 
rather less insignificant than the bridegroom generally is, 
and looked happy and contented ; as well he might look, the 
people said, getting such a fortune. Miss Baldwin's own 
husband would not be so lucky iu some respects ; for this 
gentleman might do as he pleased with Miss Nelly's money 

sne would have it so, and she could leave him the whole of 

^ whereas in Miss Baldwin's case it would be different. 



380. A RIGHTED WRONG. 

The wedding-guests were splendidly entertained ; all 
agreed that the whole affair had been exceptionally prosper- 
ous. The leave-taking between the sisters was not wit- 
nessed by any intrusive eyes ; and in the final hurry and 
confusion no one noticed that Robert Meredith did not 
shake hands with Miss Baldwin, that he spoke no word to 
her. Gertrude noticed the omission, and with pain. It 
was over now, and she w r ould fain have made the best of it 
■ — have been friends with her sister's husband, if he would 
have allowed her to be so. That he should have been thus 
vindictive on his wedding-day, that he should have had place 
in his heart for any thought of anger or ill-will, boded evil 
to Eleanor's peace, her sister thought. But it never oc- 
curred to her to fear that it might also bode evil to her own, 
otherwise than through that sister whom she loved. 

In Scottish fashion, a ball wound up the festivities of the 
Deane, and proved, in its turn, a successful entertainment. 
Miss Baldwin, indeed, looked tired and pale ; but that was 
only natural, after so much excitement and the parting with 
her sister. The dreamy look that came over her at times 
was easily explicable, without any one's being likely to 
divine that the absence of one figure from that brilliant 
crowd had anything to do with its origin. And yet, as the 
hours wore on, Gertrude forgot the fresh pang the day had 
brought her — forgot Meredith and her forebodings, forgot 
all save George Bitherdon and that he was not there. 

Three weeks had elapsed since Eleanor Baldwin's mar- 
riage. Mrs Carteret had received two short letters from the 
bride, but Mrs Meredith had not written to her sister. Mr 
Oakley was still at the Deane, where his presence had be- 
come exceedingly unpleasant not only to Miss Baldwin, but 
to Major and Mrs Carteret, to whom he had dropped one or 
two hints relative to Meredith's character and probable 
treatment of Eleanor, which had made them vaguely, though 



THE RIGHTING OE THE WRONG. 381 

unavowedly, uncomfortable. Gertrude was keenly distress- 
ed, and had found it impossible to keep the knowledge of 
her trouble and its cause from Mr Dugdale. Some un- 
named undefinable evil seemed to be brooding over theDeane. 
It was not known exactly where the newly-married pair 
were. Eleanor had given no address in her last letter, and 
Gertrude and Mrs Carteret (the latter most unwillingly) 
admitted that it seemed constrained and strangely reticent. 

The fourth week had begun, when one morning, as the 
family party were dispersing after breakfast, a servant an- 
nounced the arrival of a gentleman from London, who de- 
sired to see Miss Baldwin on urgent business. He placed a 
card in his mistress's hand as he delivered the message. 

' Mr Sankey ! ' read Gertrude aloud ; ' I don't know the 
name. What can his business be w r ith me ? ' 
■ - 'I know the name,' said Mr Oakley hurriedly, ' and I 
fear I know the business he comes on too. Meredith has 
sent him. — Major Carteret, you bad better see this gentle- 
man first — you had, indeed. Miss Baldwin cannot be 
spared much ; but do you come with me and see him, and 
let us spare her all we can.' 



CHAPTER XXXII. 

i 

THE RIGHTING OE THE WRONG. 

Some years have passed since the blow fell on Gertrude 
Baldwin which deprived her of wealth and station, which 
struck away from her her home, and left her to face the 
curiosity, the ill-will, the evil report of the world which had 
envied and flattered her, as best she might. The story of 
the interval does not take long in the telling, and, consider- 
in^ its import to so many, has but few salient points. 



382 A RIGHTED WRONG. 

No resistance was made by Gertrude or counselled by 
her advisers ; no resistance to the bard cold terms of Robert 
Meredith's claim on bis wife's behalf. It was all true: 
G-ertrude was an illegitimate child and Eleanor the rightful 
heir. The proofs — consisting of Mr Oakley's evidence con- 
cerning Godfrey Hungerford's death, and the attested cer- 
tificate of the date of that occurrence, and the testimony of 
the certificate of the second marriage ceremony performed 
between Mr Baldwin and Margaret — were as simple as they 
were indisputable, and Gertrude made unqualified submis- 
sion at once. 

She suffered, no doubt, very keenly, but much less than 
her friends Mr Dugdale and Rose Doran suffered for her. 
So much was made plain to her, so much was cleared-up to 
her now. She knew not why it Avas her father had left her 
nothing by his will ; she understood now from what solici- 
tude it had arisen that he and her aunt, whose loving care 
she remembered so well, had bequeathed everything within 
their power to Eleanor. Thus they had endeavoured to 
atone for the unconscious, unintentional wrong done to the 
legitimate daughter and heiress. And all their efforts, all 
their care, had failed ; the invincible inexorable truth had 
come to light, and the result of all these efforts was that 
Eleanor had everything — yes, everything. The young girl 
who had risen that morning absolute mistress of the splen- 
did house and the broad acres of the Deane, and the large 
fortune which could so fittingly maintain them, stood in 
that stately house the same night a penniless dependent on 
the sister who had placed herself and all she possessed in 
the power of Gertrude's- only enemy. 

It was long before Miss Baldwin, or indeed any of the 
party, realized this— long before the full extent of the truth 
presented itself to their minds ; but when it came, it came 
with terrible conviction and conclusiveness. There was 
nothing for Gertrude. Her father's loving care had indeed 



THE EIGHTING 01? THE WRONG. 3S3 

been her undoing. The situation was a dreadful one, escape 
from it impossible. Robert Meredith had no longer any- 
thing to gain by either dissimulation or temporizing ; on 
the contrary, he now felt it to be his interest that every one 
concerned should be cured of all their illusions concerning 
him as soon and as effectually as possible, and should arrive 
at a clear comprehension of his powers, motives, and inten- 
tions. He assumed at once the name that his marriage 
with the heiress of Mr Meriton Baldwin imposed upon him ; 
and his letter to Haldane Carteret was simply a reference 
to the bearer as qualified to give all needful explanations 
and proofs, and in the event, which he took for granted, of 
the young lady known as Miss Baldwin not disputing the 
facts, he begged it might be understood that she could be 
suffered to remain at the Deane only a very short time. He 
hoped no farther communication on this subject might be 
required. The young lady would best consult her own in- 
terest by abstaining from making any such communication 
necessary. 

It is unnecessary to dwell on this portion of the trial 
appointed to Gertrude. Its bitterness came from Eleanor, 
not from her triumphant enemy. Her sister made no sign 
— not a word of kindness, of sympathy, of regret came from 
her whose life had been almost identical with that of Ger- 
trude for so many years. Even Mrs Carteret — who, the 
first shock and surprise over, was characteristically disposed 
to keep on good terms with the new Mr Meriton Baldwin, 
and in reality an extreme partisan, endeavoured to get 
credit for impartial fairness, and *a ' no business of mine ' 
bearing — even Mrs Carteret was indignant with Eleanor. 
Her shallow nature did not comprehend the growth and 
force of such evil feelings as she had nurtured in the mind 
of her niece. Gertrude suffered fearfully, but anger had 
little share in her pain. A deadly fear for her sister possess- 
ed her ; a fear which suggested itself speedily, when she 



384 A RIGHTED WRONG. 

found that Eleanor made no sign, and which grew into con- 
viction under the influence of Rose Doran's manifest belief 
in its reason and validity. Eleanor's silence was her hus- 
band's doing ; she was under his influence and dominion, she 
was afraid of him. When Gertrude, who had striven to 
hide her feelings on this point from Mr Dugdale, could not 
hide them from Uose Doran, that faithful friend said sadly, 

' It's true for you, Miss Gerty ; she's in the grip of a bad 
man, my poor child, and she's not to be blamed.' 

Then Gertrude, in the depth of her love and pity for her 
sister, forgave her freely, and never did blame her more, but 
mourned for her, as she might have done had she been dead 
and laid beside their mother beneath the great yew-tree, 
only more bitterly. All it is necessary to record here is, 
that Eleanor's silence remained unbroken — unbroken, when 
her sister, with Mr Dugdale and Mrs Doran, left the Deane 
for ever, turning away from all the associations and sur- 
roundings which had been mutually dear to them — un- 
broken, when some time after Gertrude wrote to her to tell 
her that she was well and happy, and more than reconciled 
to all that had befallen her, except only her alienation from 
her sister's heart. 

Much time had now gone over, and Eleanor's silence still 
remained unbroken. There was absolutely no communica- 
tion between the sisters. Major and Mrs Carteret were 
living at Chayleigh, in a style which at first Lucy had found 
it not easy to adopt after the pleasant places of the Deane. 
But she had hit upon a consolation which, if imaginary, was 
likewise immense ; this was the notion of independence. 
To be her own mistress, the mistress of her own house, her 
own servants, and her own time, was discovered by Mrs 
Carteret to be a blissful state of things. Besides this con- 
solation, she had soon ' brought round ' Major Carteret 
to an acquiescent form of mind respecting the state of 
things at the Deane, and they made frequent visits there • 



THE RIGHTING OP THE WKONG. 385 

but not even in this indirect way was the separation between 
the sisters modified. Mrs Carteret was given to understand 
on the first occasion of her meeting Mr and Mrs Meredith 
Baldwin — and a very awkward meeting it was — that it 
would be for her own interest to abstain from speaking of 
Gertrude to Eleanor, and, indeed, that her retaining the 
valuable privilege of an entree at the Deane was contingent 
on her strict obedience to this hint. Mrs Carteret proved 
worthy of her old friend's confidence ; and the former life at 
the Deane might never have had existence for any remin- 
iscence of it that was to be traced now. 

The intelligence which reached Gertrude of her sister 
through her uncle and aunt was too vague to satisfy her. 
Eleanor was very popular, very much admired ; Eleanor's 
entertainments were splendid ; and Mrs Carteret felt con- 
vinced she and Meredith Baldwin lived fully up to their in- 
come, large as it was. She really could not say whether 
Eleanor was happy, according to dear Gertrude's strange 
exaggerated notions. She had at least everything which 
ought to make her so, and she was always in very high 
spirits. She was rather restless and fond of change, and no 
doubt Meredith was a good deal away from her ; and then 
poor dear Eleanor had always had a strong dash of jealousy 
in her disposition, and she never was remarkably reasonable. 
No doubt she did occasionally make herself unpleasant and 
ridiculous if her husband stayed away when she thought he 
ought to be with her ; but she got over it again, and it did 
not signify. As to Meredith's ill-treating Eleanor, Mrs 
Carteret begged Gertrude not to be so silly as to believe 
anything of the kind, if such ill-natured reports should reach 
her. Why, everybody knew Meredith was no fool ; and if 
Eleanor (who was very delicate — and no wonder, considering 
her restless racketing) did not make a will in his favour, he 
would have nothing at all in case of her death. There was 
no heir to the Deane — two infants had been born, but each 



386 A RIGHTED WRONG. 

had lived only a few hours — and Mrs Carteret knew positively 
that Eleanor had made no will. Meredith was not likely 
(supposing him to have no better motive — which Mrs Car- 
teret, though her tone had become greatly modified of late 
in speaking of her quondam admirer, could not endure to 
suppose) to endanger his chance of future independent 
wealth by ill-treating the person who could confer it on him. 

This was poor comfort ; but it was all Gertrude coiild 
get, and she was forced to be content with it. The old life 
at the Deane had faded away ; no change could bring her 
back the past ; she never could have any interest in it. She 
sometimes speculated upon whether it would add to her grief, 
if her sister died, to think of her father's property, her own old 
home, in the possession of total strangers. She had hardly ever 
heard anything of the next heir — a bachelor, already a rich 
man, living in England. This gentleman's name was Mor- 
daunt, and he had a younger brother, who had assumed an- 
other name on his marriage, and to whose children the Deane, 
failing direct heirs of Eleanor, would descend. The sisters 
knew nothing more of these distant connections, nor had 
there ever been any acquaintance between them and Eitz- 
william Baldwin. 

Though Gertrude sometimes pondered on these things 
it must not be supposed that she brooded on them, or that 
the irrevocable past filled an undue place in her practical 
and useful life. The misfortune which had befallen her had 
from the first its alleviations ; and there came a day when 
Gertrude would have eagerly denied that it was a misfor- 
tune at all — a day when she would have declared it was the 
source of all her happiness, the providential solution of 
every doubt and difficulty which had beset her path. What 
that day was the reader is soon to know. 

The first act of Mr Dugdale when the truth was made 
known to him — when he clearly understood that once more 
the foreboding of the woman he had loved and mourned 



THE RIGHTING OP THE WKONG. 387 

with such matchless ami abiding constancy had been fulfilled 
so many years after its shadow had darkened her day — was 
to declare his intention of immediately leaving the Deane, 
and forming a new home for Gertrude. How devoutly he 
thanked God then for the life at whose duration he had 
been sometimes tempted to murmur, the length of days 
which had enabled him to profit by the impulse which had 
prompted him to decline to add to the ruin which, in their 
blindness, they had all accumulated to heap in Gertrude's 
path ! "When he explained this to her, and made her see 
how her father and mother had loved her, great peace came 
to Gertrude, and much happiness in the perfect confidence 
between her and her aged friend, owning no exception now. 
In his zeal for Margaret's child, Mr Dugdale seemed to find 
strength which had not been his for years. He bore the 
journey to the neighbourhood of London, whither Mrs 
Doran had preceded them for the purpose of engaging a 
house for them, well ; and he settled into his new home as 
readily as Gertrude did. 

In a neat small house in a western suburb of London, 
George Bitherdon found Mr Dugdale and her whom he had 
last seen in all the lustre of wealth and station, when he re- 
turned from the long absence which had been occasioned by 
his mother's illness and subsequent death. George was 
perfectly conscious that neither his voice nor his manner, 
when he was introduced by the faithful Eose with manifest 
satisfaction, conveyed the impression which might have been 
considered suitable to the occasion, whether regarded from 
their point of view or from his. He knew his eyes were 
bright and his cheek flushed ; he knew his voice was thrill- 
ing with pleasure, with happiness, with hope; and he 
abandoned any attempt to express a sadness he did not feel, 
to affect to grieve for a change in Gertrude's circumstances 
and position which rendered him exquisitely happy, and for 
which he, though by no means a presumptuous man, felt an 



388 A RIGHTED WRONG. 

inward irresistible conviction lie should be able to console 
her. 

In less than a year from the falling of the long-planned 
blow on Gertrude Baldwin's defenceless head, the day be- 
fore alluded to had dawned upon her — the day on which she 
recognized the seemingly insurmountable misfortune of her 
life as its greatest blessing and the source of all its happi- 
ness. It was her wedding-day. There was no need for 
waiting longer for equality in their fortunes ; there was no 
need to think of what the world might say of George or of 
her. The world she had lived in had ceased to remember 
and to talk of her ; the world he lived in would respect him, 
as it had ever done, and welcome her. Theirs was a quiet, 
happy courtship, a peaceful, hopeful time, blessed with their 
old friend's earnest approval and loving presence. A 
rational prospect of the best kind of content this world can 
give was opening before them — a prospect of neither poverty 
nor riches, of no distinction in mere name — the meaning- 
less legacy of others — but of a position to be worthily won. 
Mutual love, confidence, and respect, and such experience 
of life as, leaving them the power of enjoying its good, 
should save them from its illusions — such was the dowry 
with which these two began their married life. 

Major and Mrs Carteret attended the quiet wedding, at 
which they and two friends of George Kitherdon's were the 
only guests. Gertrude had hoped that Mrs Carteret would 
have been the bearer to her of some communication from 
her sister, that the barrier, which she felt no doubt had been 
interposed by Meredith's authority, would on this occasion 
be broken down. But Eleanor still made no sign ; and Mrs 
Carteret could tell Gertrude no more than that Eleanor had 
heard the news of her sister's intended marriage with agita- 
tion, but in silence, and that she was then in London, en 
route for the Continent, where she was to pass the winter. 
This was a cloud ; but it was the only one upon the bright- 



THE RIGHTING OP THE WRONG. 389 

ness of Gertrude's -wedding-day, and it soon passed over. 
It had quite passed when the bride and bridegroom were 
bidding farewell to Mr Dugdale, before they went away on 
their brief wedding-trip. It was to be very brief ; for they 
would not leave him alone for any length of time ; and in 
the mean time Mr Dugdale was to remove into the larger 
house in the same neighbourhood which was to be the home 
of George and Gertrude. 

The farewell words had been spoken, and Gertrude had 
risen from her kneeling position beside the old man's chair, 
when the servant entered and handed Gertrude a parcel ad- 
dressed to her by the name not three hours old, addressed to 
her in Eleanor's hand. She broke the seal, and the con- 
tents proved to be a flat case containing a suit of beautiful 
pearls. A scrap of paper lay among the jewels. Gertrude 
seized it eagerly and read : 

' Wear these, darling, for tlie sake of old times, and of me. 
Forgive me, and make your husband forgive me, and love me a 
little even yet and after all, as I love you for ever and letter 
than all.' 

As Gertrude's tears fell fast upon the precious words? 
and George and Mr Dugdale looked at her, distressed and 
yet glad, Rose Doran came to her side, and said, while she 
dried her eyes as if she were still the child she had nursed : 

' There, there, alanna, didn't I tell you it wasn't her fault 
at all, but his ? and now you see for yourself it's true, and 
you'll go away with an easier mind. And, mark my words, 
it's coming right — it's coming right by degrees, and it will 
all come right in the end.' 

Mr Dugdale still kept late hours, as he had done all his 
life. Mrs Doran left him at the usual hour in more than 
his accustomed spirits, and not apparently fatigued by the 
unusual emotion of the day. When he was alone, the old 
man passed some time in reading ; then he closed his book 
and gave himself up to thought. His thoughts were seem- 
ingly very peaceful, and not sad ; for there was a calm and 



390 A RIGHTED WRONG. 

patient smile upon the worn face, to which old age had 
brought a serene dignity. His large deeply -cushioned arm- 
chair moved easily upon its castors, and, after a period of 
profound stillness, he rolled himself in the chair towards a 
writing-table, on which a lamp was burning. He unlocked 
a deep drawer, the lowest of a set on his right hand, and took 
out two objects. One was his will, which he spread out 
upon the table and read attentively. Then muttering to 
himself, ' A few kind words to Nelly,— God help her, poor 
child ! ' he wrote half-a-dozen lines on the reverse of one of 
the pages of the document, and appended his initials in a 
clear and steady hand. This done, he replaced the paper in 
the drawer, and turned his attention to the other object 
he Lad taken out. 

It was the portrait of Margaret, in its beautiful setting 
of passion-flowers in jeweller's w r ork of enamel and gold. 
There was reverential tenderness in the old man's touch as 
he placed the picture upright before him, opened the screens 
of golden filigree, and ' fell to such perusal ' of it as had been 
familiar to him since the coffin-lid had closed over the face 
it feebly shadowed forth. The minutes fled by as he gazed 
upon the likeness of the beautiful spiritual face which had 
gone down to the grave in untouched loveliness ; and a glass 
upon his dressing-table alongside reflected his bowed head, 
sunken features, bent shadowy figure, and thin gray hair. 
Now and then a few unconnected murmurs escaped his lips, 
but rarely ; while his gaze remained fixed, and a solemn 
peacefulness spread over his face. 

' The same eyes in heaven,' he whispered, ' the same 
smile. How many years have I looked for them, and 
longed for them — how many, many years ! I shall go to 
, her ; but she has not been waiting and watching for me. 
No, no ; heaven has been full enough to her all this time 
with him there.' 

He changed the position of the picture slightly, and 
leaned his head back against the cushion in his chair, look- 



THE RIGHTING OP THE WRONG. 391 

ing at the face from a greater distance ; then stretched out 
his folded hands and rested them upon the table. 

' A long, long time — but nearly over, I think — and I 
have not murmured over-much, for your sake, Margaret. 
But now, now I think 1 may make the Nunc dimittis my 
evensong.' 

A little longer the old man's gaze remained fixed upon 
the picture ; and then his form settled down amid the 
cushions, his hands fell gently from the edge of the table 
upon his knees, and his eyes closed softly. Through the 
hours of the night the lamp burned, and lighted up the 
picture with its golden trellised covers unclosed, and lighted 
up the old man's serene face. But with the morning the 
flame in the lamp flickered and died, and the sunshine came 
in, and gleamed upon the walls and the floor. Voices and 
footsteps stirred in the house, and soon Mrs Doran came to 
Mr Dugdale's room, as she did every morning. Then she 
knew, when she looked at the old man and touched his 
passive hands, still clasped and resting on his knee, — so 
gentle had been the parting between the body and the spirit, 
— that his sleep was never to know waking until the resur- 
rection morning. 

The blinds are closely drawn in Gertrude Bitherdon's 
house, and she sits alone, dressed in deep mourning. There 
is a touch of sadness upon her beauty ; but she is more 
beautiful than she was in her girlhood, and for all the sor- 
row in her face to-day, one can see she is a happy woman. 
She is so. A happy wife, loved, trusted, honoured ; her 
husband's companion and his friend. A proud and happy 
mother too, untroubled, when she watches her boy's baby 
glee and hears his laughter, with any remembrance of a 
great inheritance which was once to have been the birth- 
right of her first-born son. A happy woman in her house, 
and popular with her friends ; one whose life is full of bless- 
ings and void of bitterness. It is not for her faithful old 



392 A RIGHTED WRONG. 

friend Gertrude Ritherdon wears mourning to-day. That 
wound has long been healed, and she and her husband have 
none but sunny happy thoughts of him. Death has come 
nearer to Gertrude this time even than he came when Mr 
Dugdale answered his summons — they have received formal 
notice of Eleanor's decease. The event has been long looked 
for, and Gertrude has well known that life has had nothing 
desirable in it for Eleanor. The sisters have never met, 
and of late Eleanor has lived abroad altogether, her hus- 
band being rarely with her ; but Gertrude knows that her 
sister's former feelings have long ago returned, and there is 
sorrow, but not anguish, in this definitive earthly parting. 

George Ritherdon has been summoned to Naples, where 
Eleanor Baldwin died, by Major Carteret, and Gertrude is 
now expecting his return. Her thoughts have been busy 
with the past ; and when they have rested upon Robert 
Meredith, it has been without any anger for herself, but with 
some wonder as to how he will take the passing away to a 
stranger of all the wealth and luxury he bought at such a 
price, and enjoyed for so comparatively short a time. He 
will be a rich man, no doubt, with all Eleanor had to bestow 
on him ; but he will have to see a stranger in the place he 
filled so pompously, and to feel himself once more a person 
of no importance. Eor Eleanor has died childless, and the 
Deane passes away to the eldest son of the late brother of 
that Mr Mordaunt who was the next in the entail, and who, 
strange to say, died only two days before the death of Mrs 
Meredith Baldwin occurred. Gertrude has heard this 
vaguely, in the hurry of George's departure, and during the 
first bewilderment which death brings with it. 

A carriage stops, and Gertrude lifts the end of a blind 
and looks out. Two gentlemen enter the house, and in a 
few seconds she is clasped in her husband's. arms, and sees, 
standing behind him, her uncle, Major Carteret. She greets 
him affectionately, and then loses her composure and bursts 
into tears. The two men allow her to give vent to her 



THE RIGHTING OP THE WRONG. 393 

feelings without remonstrance, and when she is again calm, 
they talk a little of their journey, and then approach the 
subject of Eleanor's death. Gertrude knows the particu- 
lars of the event, and they go on to speak of the will. 

' I thought it better to tell you than to write about it,' 
says George. ' Tou must prepare for a surprise, Gertrude. 
Eleanor has left her entire fortune — it is much wasted, but 
still large — to you.' 

' To me !' exclaimed Gertrude, ' to me! And what has 
she left to Meredith ? ' 

' Nothing,' replied Major Carteret. ' Precisely what he 
deserved. She makes no mention of him, his name does not 
occur in the will. She probably explains her motives and 
tells the sad story of her life in a letter which she left 
directed to me, that I may give it unopened into your hands. 
Tou shall have it, but hear first what we have to tell you. 
She has left you everything in her power to bequeath, and 
left it all at your absolute disposal.' 

Gertrude seemed stupefied. At length she said slowly : 

1 "What must he feel ? "What did he say ? ' 

' I don't know what he felt,' replied Major Carteret. 
' What he said quickly deprived me of all inclination to 
pity him, the scoundrel ! I hope we have all heard and seen 
the last of him. His worthy associate, Oakley, made me 
understand his character long ago ; but while poor Nelly 
lived it would have served no purpose to resent it, and we 
had nothing to gain by exposing him. Now it turns out 
she has avenged herself and us all, and we can afford to dis- 
miss him from our minds. Tou must allow me to con- 
gratulate you, Gertrude, on poor Nelly's handsome legacy, 
and then on something much more important still.' 

Gertrude looked from her husband to her uncle nerv- 
ously, and her lips trembled. 

' What is it ? I can't bear much more.' 

George put his arm firmly round her, and placing her 
on a sofa, took his place by her side. At this moment Mrs 



394 A RIGHTED WRONG. 

Doran came quietly into the room and approached the 
group. Haldane made her a sign to be silent, while George 
spoke to his wife : 

' While I was staying at the Deane, when I first went 
there for your birthday, Gertrude, my mother wrote to me, 
and told me it was a curious circumstance that I should be 
a visitor at Miss Baldwin's house. Why ? Can you guess ? ' 

Gertrude silently shook her head. 

' Because, as I then learned for the first time, my father's 
old bachelor brother, Mr Mordaunt, was in the entail of the 
Deane, and in the very improbable event of there being no 
direct heir, that which has come to pass might come to pass. 
Do you understand what has happened now, my darling ? ' 

' No,' stammered Gertrude ; ' I — I do not.' 

' This is what has happened : my uncle, Mr Mordaunt, 
is dead. I am his heir. My father took my mother's name 
in consequence of a family quarrel about his marriage, and, 
as you know, he died some years ago. I am the next in the 
entail, and Eleanor's dying without a child, makes me the 
possessor of the Deane. Tou now know why I did not ask 
you to be my wife when I believed you to be the lawful 
owner of the property ; you now know how doubly joyfully 
I made you my wife when you lost it. Gertrude, my dar- 
ling, I think you will prize your old name and .^our old 
home more than ever now that it is your husband who gives 
them back to you.' 

' I said it would all come right, Miss Gerty, didn't I, 
alanna ? ' exclaimed Rose Doran, as she in her turn caught 
Gertrude in her strong arms, and rocked her to and fro like 
an infant. ' But I never thought it could come so right. 
Honest people and rogues have got their due in this world, 
once in a way, anyhow.' 

THE END. 



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